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Future Vermont farmers test their skills

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These students are being put to the test.

"I think I did really good. I am very confident that I got a very high score," said Chris Stowe, a student at the Center for Technology Essex.

And for potential Future Farmers of America like Timothy Snider of Richford High School the stakes are high.

"We used to get first place here every year, so we are trying to build it back up," Snider said.

Wednesday, Snider and hundreds of his peers from across the state filled the Vermont Farm Show to participate in a head-to-head FFA Challenge. The group tackled more than 50 questions testing their skills across the industry.

"They'll give you samples of a twig or a piece of wood and you've got to tell them what kind of tree it is or they'll give you an insect or the damage that it causes to a tree and you have to tell them what insect caused the damage or what insect it is," Snider explained.

Center for Technology Essex teacher Curtis Comfort is leading more than a dozen students this year. He says a win in Vermont could send some of these bright young minds to nationals.

"A few of these kids will get to go to Indianapolis to compete with the best from around the nation and it's a real eye-opener for them," Comfort said.

Comfort says even for students who don't make it to nationals, the opportunity to interact with folks on the showroom floor can lead to jobs.

"It's good for them to break out of their local communities and see something new, meet people from different areas of the state and hopefully make some business contacts, as well," Comfort said.

It's good news for many of these kids who are eyeing jobs in the industry.

"It's nice to see that it is not a dying thing and that people are still interested in doing it," Stowe said.

And for folks like Snider who know that getting engaged now can have a major impact on the future of farming in Vermont.

"It's just got to be passed down to younger generations so that the tradition, all of it keeps going on for years to come," Snider said.

The winners:

Team: Green Mountain Career and Tech Center

Individual winner: Cody Emmons of Middlebury Technical Center

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