Okeechobee students crowned FFA national champions

OKEECHOBEE– The Okeechobee County School Board recognized John Williamson II and Jenna Larson at their Dec. 10 meeting for their accomplishment in being named the Agriscience Fair, Animal Systems Division II National Champions at the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Convention in Indianapolis on Oct. 28.

John and Jenna’s project focused on investigating the effects of different protein feeds on the growth of U.S. farm raised catfish.

Lake Okeechobee News/Richard Marion
Okeechobee FFA students were among those honored by the Okeechobee County School Board on Dec. 10. From left to right are John Williamson, Megan Williamson, Cynthia Letcher, Jenna Larson, John Williamson II, Marcie Farrell and Ken Kenworthy.

“I thought this project was really interesting because we were studying two different types of feed to feed farm raised catfish,” explained Jenna. “One was a fish-based protein while the other was a pork-based protein.”

“We hypothesized that fish-based protein would yield a higher feed conversion ratio than the pork-based protein,” continued Jenna. “And the results were in favor of that hypothesis.”

Okeechobee County Superintendent of Schools Ken Kenworthy attempted to put the pair’s accomplishment in perspective for those in attendance at the school board meeting.

“Every state in the union had the opportunity to send individuals to compete in these categories,” Mr. Kenworthy said. “In the state of Florida alone there are thousands of FFA members, and nationwide there are hundreds of thousands of FFA members. These two were able to rise to the top in their division.”

The school board also recognized those who participated in the Food for Families program this year.

Overall Okeechobee County public schools collected 13,240 pounds of food during the annual Food for Families drive in November. All food donated stayed right here in Okeechobee to serve the needs of the community.

Lake Okeechobee News/Richard Marion
The Okeechobee County School Board recognized those who participated in the Food for Families program this year. Overall Okeechobee County public schools collected 13,240 pounds of food during the annual Food for Families drive in November. The district was able to collect 60 percent more food than they collected last year.

North Elementary donated the most food this year, with 2,908 pounds, followed by Central Elementary with 2,324 pounds, Seminole Elementary with 1,853 pounds, Everglades Elementary with 1,680 pounds, Osceola Middle with 1,531 pounds, South Elementary with 1,482 pounds, Okeechobee High with 768 pounds and the Freshman Campus with 694 pounds.

Jenny Pung, Donna Whittaker, Mark Moore and Carl Maxwell were singled out for their help with the program as well.

Raluerson Hospital’s Jenny Pung helped coordinate distribution of the collected food within the community while Donna Whittaker, Mark Moore and Carl Maxwell helped collect the food at each school site and delivered it to Raulerson Hospital.

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