Maddie H. and Brylee P. of the Halls FFA chapter were named National Finalist this year in the Animal Systems category in the division 4, which is a team of two 9th or 10th graders.

 The National FFA Agriscience Fair is a key competition that is part of the annual National FFA Convention & Expo, Oct. 24-27 in Indianapolis. To qualify, FFA members working as individuals or teams in grades seven through 12 are required to conduct a scientific research project pertaining to the agriculture or food science industries and win their state’s FFA Agriscience fair.

 Maddie and Brylee’s topic was over the effect of incubation temperature on the sex of hatched chicks. They began their project last fall. They first researched many scientific journals, along with written and online sources on the topic. From their research, they found two separate temperatures to work with. They hypothesized at 100 degrees Fahrenheit that there would be a greater number of female chicks, while at 98 degrees Fahrenheit more male chicks would be seen. They then gathered eggs, prepared the incubators and then began the incubation process. They checked every day to ensure that both incubators were working properly. After 21 days chicks began to hatch. They cared for the chicks and sexed them at different ages with different sexing practices. They performed the trail twice yielding positive results with the temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit and inconclusive results on the 98 degrees Fahrenheit. They continued to care for all chicks and raised them to be a productive part of their school’s poultry operation.

 In preparation for the State contest, they had to gather all research and log books used throughout their project. They then together completed an official scientific report over their project. This is read through by advisors and then sent to the state for grading. Once at state convention they had to prepare a board to showcase their project and be interviewed by a panel of three judges that have experience in the animal science field. They were awarded first place in the state of Tennessee. First-place winners in each state qualify for the national pre-qualifying judging. During the summer, they made minor improvements to their report and sent it to the National FFA for judging. The panel of judges reviewed entries and selected the best in each category and division to move on to the national competition. After the national judging, they were named national finalist and given the opportunity to interview at the FFA National Convention in Indianapolis in October. At convention, they had to set up their board, go through a round of interviews, and spend a day at their project to showcase it to the many visitors of the convention. They attended a luncheon specifically for Agriscience fair National Finalist and there they were recognized as a Silver Level project and 11th in the nation for their work.

 The 2018 National FFA Agriscience Fair is sponsored by Cargill, Chevrolet, John Deere and Syngenta.