This year’s team is youngest from DC to compete at nationals
By Kristen Miller
DASSEL-COKATO, MN - One of Dassel-Cokato High School’s youngest FFA Food Science and Technology teams has proven to be the best in the nation.
The food science team consisting of Martha Fonseca, junior; Megan Piepgras, sophomore; Lillia Khelif, sophomore; and Elizabeth Schmid, sophomore, attended the 81st National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, IN Oct. 23-24.
The DC team placed first out of 26 teams from across the nation, with each member receiving a $1,000 scholarship to the college of their choice. The team was 84 points ahead of the second-place team from North Dakota.
Part of the convention, is the National FFA Food Science and Technology Career Development Event, which is designed to test a student’s knowledge of food science and his/her ability to apply it to practical situations.
The students first take a 50-question test that is worth 300 points. The questions focus on chemistry, biology, and food nutrition.
Schmid scored the highest overall with 252 points. Together, the team had the highest average test score.
Then, the teams participated in a safety evaluation portion in which the team had to write a response to a customer complaint.
Next was the sensory evaluation in which the team had to identify four scents.
The final portion of the test was presentation. During this, the team had to develop a multi-component snack product with dip.
The DC team’s product was called Northern Trails Snack Pack with pretzels, Chex cereal, wheat crackers, and peanut butter dip.
The product had to be developed around guidelines in that there had to be zero grams of trans fat, less than 250 calories, 35 percent or less calories from fat, and a selling price no more than $1.29 for the individually-wrapped packages.
The team members each had their own duties. Khelif was in charge of packaging and pilot manufacturing, Schmid was the nutritionist, and did the product research, as well as the marketing and advertising, Piepgras was in charge of pricing and product development, and Fonseca did quality assurance and mass production.
Aside from winning first place, the team was also the only one to have all four members individually ranked in the gold division. Individually, Piepgras placed third in the nation and Fonseca placed 10th.
Seena Glessing, FFA coach, said that past teams from DC to make it to nationals have consisted of juniors and seniors, and even freshmen in college.
“For them (as sophomores) to really step up and win nationals is quite amazing,” Glessing said.
Also at the convention, three DC graduates received the American FFA Degree, the highest honor given to FFA members. They were Paul Nowak, Kevin Davis, and Melissa Benoit.
Rachael Dahlman was selected this year to be a Minnesota state delegate at the convention. While there, she attended business meetings to discuss the direction of the FFA organization.
Also at nationals, the DC FFA Chapter as a whole received $1,000 from the FFA National Alumni to go toward its Greenhand Heifer Project.
This grant was only given to 30 teams in the nation, with DC being the only Minnesota team to receive it.
This year’s national event had the largest attendance is considered the largest youth gathering in the nation, according to Glessing.