Tuesday, May 19th, 2009
By Nancy Allen
St. Henry ag engineering team is first in the state
  The St. Henry FFA Agricultural Engineering Team recently placed first in the state, but not without a few unforeseen snags along the way.
The four member team of Jake Marchal, Jacob Rindler, Derek Goettemoeller and Craig Lefeld were supposed to take the preliminary portion of the competition - a series of 100 questions - online on April 27, but the computer server in Columbus was down. The test was rescheduled for the following day, but the test again was scrapped due to more server problems, FFA adviser Matt Pleiman said.
Finally organizers decided that all 62 teams from across the state would take a written exam during the State FFA Convention on May 1.
Everything was going fine until about halfway through the exam when the power went out and a window had to be opened to run the solar-powered calculators students were using.
"I wasn't sure we would ever get it done," Pleiman quipped.
Pleiman said the written exam tested St. Henry FFA team members in five areas of agricultural engineering: industry and marketing systems, which has to do with determining the most economical materials or applications to use in ag engineering; energy systems such as wind, solar and electrical power; environmental and natural resource systems such as understanding how plants go through photosynthesis and issues associated with water and air quality; machinery and equipment systems; and structural systems involving ag-related buildings.
After results from the preliminary written test were tabulated, St. Henry was in first, putting them in a good position for the second part of the competition - the hands-on portion.
Team members had to perform arc welding, demonstrate calibration skills on an agricultural sprayer and calculate the amount and proper types of building materials they needed to build rafters.
"It was really fun," Goettemoeller said. "The environment was very competitive and the time we put in studying was well worth it."
"I was really surprised," Rindler said. "With all the extra time we put in, I think we definitely deserved the win."
The whole team was excited about the first-place win, especially after having placed sixth in the same competition last year. The students attributed their win this year to better study habits.
The team received a banner and Marchal received a plaque for placing first individually from across the state and Rindler received a plaque for placing fourth individually. Lefeld placed 14th and Goettemoeller 18th individually. All FFA members who placed in the top 10 individually received plaques.
The team is now looking forward to the national competition in October during the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis.
"It was quite a rush knowing that we were competing for the top spot," Lefeld said. "Our studying really paid off and I hope the best for the national exam."
Pleiman, who has been FFA adviser at St. Henry for seven years, said this is his first experience with a team placing first in the state.
"I'm really proud of how hard they worked," he said. "Just extremely proud and extremely happy for them."
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