BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7)-- A serious competition took over Montvale Park Thursday afternoon.
Lord Botetourt High School student, Faith Settle, is competing in the compass-reading section of the forestry contest. WDBJ7 Photo.
"Today is still kind of like the playoffs," explained Nick Higgins, a student at Gretna High School.
It was a competition that required skill, practice, confidence and even good luck charms.
"Yes ma'am, every competition I wear just about the same socks and same pair of boots," said Higgins.
Forty-eight students traded in the classroom for the forest. Future Farmers of America members from five counties came together to compete in the 2019 Area Forestry Competition.
"I just told them to get out there and show what they know because, they know it," said Darryl Holland, an agriculture instructor at Henry County Career Academy.
While the competition required hours of practice and determination, the teams say it was about a lot more than winning. Leaders explained that the contest ties into workforce development, getting the next generation of foresters ready for Virginia.
"The agriculture industry and the forestry industry, that's Virginia's number one employer," said Holland.
Virginia Department of Forestry played an integral role in hosting Thursday's competition. David Tompkins, a VDOF technician, said that each of the categories of competition mirrors skills they need in their everyday work.
Students had to compete in tree-measuring, tree identifying, equipment identifying and compass-reading.
"It gives me hope that there is going to be a good crop of future natural resource leaders," said Tompkins.
Magna Vista's junior team and Gretna High's senior team won the competition, advancing to the state contest in April.
However, many of the students told WDBJ7 that the skills they learned will take them far past one day of competition.
"Not everybody is built to work in a cubicle," said Sadie Perry, a student at Magna Vista High School. "I definitely do not want to be doing that stuff for the rest of my life. So, outdoor stuff is good."
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