FFA challenge tests diagnostic skills

By Ryan Carpe rcarpe@civitasmedia.com

February 23, 2014

DARKE COUNTY – FFA students from all over the region met at the Darke County Fairgrounds Youth Building on Saturday to compete in the annual District 5 Agricultural Industrial Diagnostics Contest.

More than 17 local high schools took part in the competition, which tested agricultural equipment knowledge and practical problem solving skills related to common equipment and vehicles.

“Basically they’re learning to troubleshoot problems,” said Koenig Service Manager Jeremy Fine. “They can utilize this whether they have equipment on the farm or whether they decide to go into this as a profession, it can serve as a jumping point for that too.”

The heavy equipment used for testing was loaned to the FFA by Koenig Equipment in Greenville and North State Hardware & Implement Company, and included compact tractors, commercial mowers and utility vehicles.

During each individual test the equipment was “bugged” by the contest judges, challenging students to not only identify the problem, but also fix the issue in a timely manner.

“It’s fun and it’s something to do to get you out of the house,” said Versailles sophomore Jeremy Meinerding, who competed in Saturday’s event.

The contest required participants to work in teams of two, and the FFA students were provided just over a minute to evaluate the problem, and then 15 minutes to resolve it.

“It’s a really popular contest for lots of schools. It’s a very hands-on event, so students really appreciate that part of it,” FFA Advisor Dena Wuebker said.

The most common problem students encountered was the vehicle failing to start, while other issues popped up such as malfunctioning headlights or faulty air conditioning.

To address all the issues in the contest, many of the students previously competed in county diagnostic contests, others practiced at dealerships throughout the year, and some students were enrolled in technical career programs offered through their schools.

“I’ve seen a varied background,” said Fine. “As long as they’re members of the FFA they can compete, so we’ve seen everything… I mean it’s a pretty wide range of kids.”

The students are also required to take an online written test issued by the state FFA that addresses many of the principles equipment operation.

And Saturday’s event not only served as a fun way for FFA students to test their skills , but the district winners will also have the opportunity to compete in the state finals, which traditionally take place at the University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH) in Lima.

The first place winners at state earn a $10,000 scholarship for each member of the team.

“UNOH is very committed to this particular contest,” said Wuebker.