Taylor FFA team wins national poultry competition

By R. Hans Miller, News Editor
Posted 11/9/21

Walking into agricultural science teacher David Laird’s office at Taylor High School, one sees walls adorned with banners and trophies from a long tradition at the school of high-performing …

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Taylor FFA team wins national poultry competition

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Walking into agricultural science teacher David Laird’s office at Taylor High School, one sees walls adorned with banners and trophies from a long tradition at the school of high-performing Future Farmers of America teams. Laird now has more decorations for his wall after four of his students not only won the state championship in April but took national honors in October as well.

However, Laird says FFA is about more than awards.

“The purpose is to get these kids to be successful and understand that they can do anything,” Laird said.

Taylor class of 2021 graduate and Texas A&M freshman Chloe LaBard took first place; junior Madailein Fitch earned second place; senior Kathryn “Kacki” Kyrisch grabbed fourth; and senior Kristen Justilian placed fifth in the poultry judging competition at the 94th Annual FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis, Ind. held Oct. 26-30. As a team, Taylor FFA took first place in the overall competition, Laird said.

The team performed well throughout the 2020-21 schoolyear with only Katy High School beating them in competitions, Laird said. High scores and dedication to practicing and studying paid off when the team made it to the state championships, which ended on a high note for the team.

“We were all sitting in the car (when we found out), and when we found out we won we just started screaming, and we were like, ‘Oh. We have to keep going. It doesn’t end here,’” said Kyrisch.

The team practiced all summer, including LaBard who had graduated in the spring. She remained eligible for the championships because she was part of the team that had won the Texas title, Laird said. The team, which focuses on poultry as a food product, learned how to grade eggs, to judge poultry to ensure it is edible and other quality control factors. Laird said he was particularly proud of how the team worked together to ensure each member was set up to be successful.

Kyrisch, who is also president of Taylor FFA, said the mentorship and sense of partnership is one of her favorite parts of the program. She said she loves working with new FFA members and helping them “get it” when they begin working, just like when Taylor graduate and A&M student Nick Hartzler helped her when she first began the program, she said.

That tradition of mentorship and a sense of belonging is open to anyone at Taylor or any of the other KISD high schools, Laird said.

“(FFA) gives (students) a home and gives them something that they can be great at, and we pride ourselves on what we call our FFA family,” Laird said.

Correction: Kyrisch is president of the Taylor FFA team. This correction has been appended above.

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