On Oct. 29, the National FFA Organization announced Owen Doherty of the Branson FFA chapter as the Agriscience fair Power, Structure and Technical systems National Champion.
Just moments later GiAnna Shiveley of the Branson FFA Middle School chapter claimed second place in the Agriscience fair social science division.
The 93rd FFA National Convention and Expo was hosted virtually this year amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Convention held in Indianapolis, Ind. annually since 2006, conducted business as usual despite the shift to a virtual format.
“Accomplishments like this show other small chapters and schools that it is possible to have a successful program even if you do not have a large pool to draw from,” said Branson’s Agricultural Advisor Maral Howell.
Owen Doherty – Power, Structure, and Technical systems National Champion
Doherty, a freshman at Branson High School made his second appearance on stage at the National FFA Convention as an Agriscience fair champion.
In 2019, Doherty traveled with the Branson FFA Chapter to Indianapolis where he claimed the national title with his project on erosion control.
Doherty, a fifth-generation cattle rancher living in the small town of Trinchera Colo. explored the mechanics of livestock fencing.
“For my science fair project, I tested four different fence brace designs H-brace, Double H-brace, Kicker, and H-brace with a kicker,” said Doherty.
Fence braces are used in cattle fencing as an anchor for wires as they are stretched along the fence line.
Doherty constructed a full-sized model of each fence brace, testing the stability of the braces by applying tension through a wire attached to the braces.
“I used a digital caliper and level to measure the amount that the brace post moved out-of-plumb. The kicker design deflected the most force, had the least out-of-plumb movement, and was the strongest fence brace,” he said.
Presentation was the most difficult aspect of the competition according to Doherty, presenting virtually from the Branson Agriculture classroom.
Doherty said, “usually, the speech is done face to face and the judges get to ask questions. This year we had to come up with a prepared speech that we recorded and sent to the judges.”
Last year Doherty crossed a stage in front of 60,000 FFA members to claim his award as Agriscience fair champion.
This year looked very different for Doherty, as his award was broadcasted via the ¬¬RFD-TV channel as viewers watched from home.
“We have already started implementing what we learned on our ranch. Traditionally we have just used the H-brace but now we have started adding the kicker,” said Doherty.
GiAnna Shiveley – Social science runner up
Shiveley, an eighth-grade student at Branson High School, competed in the social science category at the National FFA Agriscience fair.
Shiveley’s project polled locals about their opinion of the reintroduction of Grey Wolves to Colorado wildlife.
“I researched background information about the reintroduction in other states and read several articles of the pros and cons of the reintroduction,” she said.
Shiveley’s poll reached 199 respondents, of which 155 (77.5 percent) opposed the reintroduction of Grey Wolves into Colorado Wildlife.
The results stand in stark contrast the results of Proposition 114 on the Nov. 3 ballot, which passed the reintroduction of Grey Wolves to Colorado 50.9 to 49.1 percent.