Matt Carter, a senior at Northern Adirondack Central School, earned top honors at a national FFA competition.
Matt Carter grew up surrounded by farms.
Then one day he ran into a teacher talking about cows and four years later he is the state champion in animal showmanship and ranked in the top 10 at the nationals in Indiana, walking away with a gold emblem.
“For this area, that is a big deal,” said Northern Adirondack Central School agriculture teacher and FFA advisor Donald Jones of Carter’s accomplishments this school year.
“I just feel like you can do anything you put your mind to,” Carter said.
A high-school senior and member of the Northern Adirondack FFA chapter, Carter participated in the National FFA Dairy Cattle Handlers’ Activity. The event was held in conjunction with the 84th National FFA convention in Indianapolis, Ind., sponsored by Dean Foods Company of Dallas, Tex., and the National FFA Foundation.
The National FFA Organization is a national youth group of 540,739 student members preparing for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture.
Nationals, held in late October, drew 50,000-plus FFA members, advisors and guests from across the country. The FFA mission is to positively impact students by developing leadership skills, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.
“FFA provides students with opportunities,” Jones said. “A lot of times, it is their purpose for coming to school. It is a place that is a little bit different than all their academics.”
FFA and the agriculture class enable students to learn about plant science, fish ecology, hydroponics, tractor driving, soil testing, small-animal care and more.
“You can learn about life and people working together,” Jones said. “These kids get real-world experience.”
It took Carter time to gain the skills needed to compete on the national level, Jones said.
“Matt has that internal drive and does well in whatever he does.”
Carter enjoys the trips, attending fairs and competing in nationals.
“I get to spend time with friends.”
He learned how to present animals from Homer Bushey, a farmer and former agriculture teacher. Carter works for Bushey today.
He wasn’t nervous about the statewide competition until he reached the final round.
“I felt I had to do everything right.”
Toward the end he noticed the judge watching him and knew he had nailed it.
“It was a big relief that all that hard work paid off.”
Nationals, on the other hand, frightened him, specifically the thought of participating against students from all over the country.
“I wanted to do good,” he said.
Carter placed in the top 10, earned a gold emblem and knew it had all been worth the time and effort.
“It felt really good.”
Jones continues to be proud of his student.
“Matt doesn’t even live on a farm,” the teacher beamed.