Milford FFA sweeps all 3 display categories at the state fair

Milford FFA members, from left, Matthew Sacks, Anya Phillips, Ashlyn Welch, Sarah Hudson and chapter adviser Caitlin Walton at the Delaware State Fair on Wednesday. Milford’s FFA team performed well at fair competitions. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

HARRINGTON — This year, the Milford High School branch of Future Farmers of America won all three categories in the display competition at the Delaware State Fair.

“We did put a lot of hard work into these displays, so we are very proud of what happened, that we did sweep the board with them,” said Sarah Hudson, a rising senior.

The display Sarah worked on, titled “Un-bee-lievable,” was an educational piece about bees.

“Not a lot of people think of bees as being as important as they are,” she said. “They help with pollen and with the flowers and honey, and they help with our food. They’re very underestimated.”

Matthew Sacks, a rising sophomore at Milford High, was one of the FFA students who worked on the group’s landscape display, which took a floral direction.

“The theme this year was homegrown summer fun, so basically, we went for a backyard look-type idea,” he said. “We have a fire pit full of flowers over there, as if you’re walking into a backyard and you’re going to have a summer fun night.”

The other category was a horticulture display. Rising senior Ashlyn Welch worked on that one with Anya Phillips, who will be a sophomore next year.

“The theme this year is brilliant, which wasn’t much to go off of, but after thinking about that, we realized we’ve had a lot of brilliant things happen in the FFA,” Ashlyn said. “The first African American woman became the national FFA president not too long ago.”

Sarah said working on her display through the pandemic was a valuable learning experience.

“I worked with one other person,” she said. “Me and (Anya) were constantly going back and forth on what we needed to get done, when we needed to come in. That taught us a lot about communication.”

Even though the Milford School District went online in April, FFA students were allowed to come into school to work on their displays. “We’re really thankful that our school district let our students come, socially distanced,” said Kaitlin Walton, an adviser for Milford High’s FFA chapter. “Not many other schools in the state were allowed to do that, so we were grateful that our students were able to be super hands-on with these projects.”

Milford FFA member McKenzie Ivory arranges a floral display at the Delaware State Fair on Wednesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

The contributions to the fair made by members of Milford High’s FFA chapter were not limited to these displays. Anya ended up submitting dozens of other projects to FFA competitions.

“It was a lot of work,” she said. “I know I was in the shop working on benches I have over there.”

At first, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to put in the time, because she didn’t know if the fair was going to happen in the first place, but her hard work ended up being worth it.

“I think I put in 20 different things, and I think I placed on everything except one,” Anya said. “It was just a lot of work, but I’m really glad about it. It paid off because I placed.”

Anya’s partner on the horticulture display, Ashlyn, had also trained and groomed several goats to show at the fair.

“I worked really hard with all four of those goats to get them where they need to be for showing, and I’m really hoping that tomorrow when I come in, my goats and I will be really good,” she said.

Ms. Walton said the benefits of participating in FFA extend beyond the realm of growing crops or raising animals.

“There are so many aspects of the FFA that kids can learn so many things from,” she said, including leadership opportunities and the need to work as a team and communicate effectively. “Whoever goes into the FFA … is going to come out with some positive experience.”