Each year, the Cortez FFA Chapter sells citrus fruits, nuts and trail mixes as a fundraiser to be able to attend the National Western Stock Show (NWSS) in Denver, among other conferences and conventions for agriculturists and FFA members. In addition to earning the money, each member also works hard to keep their grades up and earn enough points in order to attend NWSS. This year, twenty Cortez FFA members earned the right to attend the National Western Stock Show January 14-18.
In addition to attending the stock show, the Cortez FFA Chapter takes an entire day to tour various agricultural-based businesses in order to further their education about the agricultural industry and possible careers. This year, the chapter toured a buffalo and beef processing plant, a feed lot and a dairy.
The tour of the Double J Meat Processing plant in Pierce, Colo. gave members more knowledge about how beef and buffalo are processed. The tour allowed the students to observe the animals go through almost every step of the slaughter process from skinning the hides to cutting and packaging individual cuts of meat. Members also learned about the strict regulations surrounding the slaughter of organic meat and new technology that reduces shrink of carcasses.
After the processing plant tour, the chapter traveled to Greeley to tour the Kuner Feedlot, one of twelve feedlots operated by JBS. The tour allowed members to gain a better understanding of how the feeding requirements of cattle can be met efficiently. Cortez FFA members saw firsthand the dedication to animal health and feed efficiency at the feedlot, and how detail-oriented the employees had to be, since the feedlot was at capacity with over 85,000 head of cattle. While most of the Cortez members had a basic understanding of feed rations, feed efficiency and the cattle industry, this tour certainly helped put things into a worldwide perspective of how large the cattle industry is.
The last tour the chapter took was an unfamiliar one that allowed members to become much more interested and informed in a different aspect of the cattle industry. On Monday, Jan. 16 the chapter toured Wildcat Dairy in Fort Morgan, Colo., and was able to see every aspect of the dairy from the cows being milked, the calving pens where cows and heifers calve nearly every day, the day-old calves and the yearling pens. The chapter became familiar with the different feeds used in the dairy industry, and how the cattle were ran through the system from the day they are born until they are culled from the milking parlor. This opportunity was one of a lifetime since there are no large scale dairies in southwestern Colorado.
The trip to NWSS was more than just tours as well. The chapter attended two days of the stock show and had the opportunity to see some of the best cattle, sheep, and hogs that are in the United States. Not only were they able to see the best animals but also some talented showmen. After long days at the stock show, we attended two performances of the National Western Stock Show Rodeo, something that every member looks forward to. Cortez FFA also cheered on other FFA members while they participated in the annual FFA Heifer Wrangler.
Additionally, Cortez FFA members, along with members from the Dolores and Dove Creek chapters, took in a murder mystery show at the Adams Mystery Dinner Playhouse on Sunday, Jan. 15. Several members were unexpectedly considered suspects in the Hollywood themed murder mystery, but none of them were found guilty.
This annual trip allows FFA members to learn from experience and to see a world that many do not see. Cortez FFA strives to make this trip a fun and, most importantly, educational trip.