The team took fourth out of 32 teams in the competition. Only the
top four teams were recognized at the national level.
The team was composed of Taylor Hilgendorf, Jo Ellen Westen, Ben
Wagnon, Jeff Clark, Kelly Cross, Adam Cross and Jordan Gass. Gass
was unable to be present at the recognition.
The sponsor for the national competition was Elanco Animal
Health. The students received $200 scholarships for fourth place.
Pech said the team chose as their topic the potential impact of
an ethanol plant locating near Hartsburg. They began working on it
nearly a year ago. Their preparations included conducting public
forums to gather public input for their state and national
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They won the Illinois competition that took place in February.
The activity is structured to improve public speaking and apply
classroom knowledge to the real world. FFA school sponsor Betsy Pech
said that she watched the team members gain confidence, good public
speaking skills and maturity in the year's time they worked on their
Pech said she doesn't think the students fully recognize how big
their accomplishment was. She was proud of them as individuals. They
worked hard and pressed through frustrations. They should be
thrilled to death, she said.