The Crest Charging Towards Nationals


In the short 11 years, Strawberry Crest has been open, the FFA program has won numerous awards in many different competitions, making the Crest known for their agricultural program. This past February, four Strawberry Crest students competed in the State FFA Horse Evaluation Preliminaries at the Florida State Fair. These students were:
Delaney Ferrell, grade 11
Kayla Williams, grade 11
Katryn Johnson, grade 11
Taylor Cella, grade 11
Under the direction of Mrs. Michelle Cesario
The competition requires teams to place four classes of horses based on breed standards and four classes of performance according to discipline criteria. This year, over 44 teams competed against our chargers. Under normal circumstances, the top 15 teams move onto the State competition, which takes place in April at the University of Florida in their horse teaching unit. Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the state competition was canceled so the scores from the preliminaries became the official state scores and decided the state champions who would move onto nationals.

Our chargers placed first with 45 points between them and second place, making them the State FFA Horse Evaluation Career Development Event Champions. They will represent the state of Florida at the National competition in Indianapolis, Indiana in October. Their coach Michelle Cesario stated, “I am absolutely over the moon for these girls”. They have become knowledgeable and skilled with horses due to their diligent work over the last three years. The team has worked to qualify for nationals for three years to be able to show off what they know at the national level.
Participating in an event of this manner requires a lot of preparation and practice. The team has been meeting twice a week before school to learn various judging criteria and practiced using online resources. On top of this, they attended two judging clinics each year while on the team at the University of Florida while working alongside their equine science department. Three members of the team have been training for three years while placing in the top three each time.
Walking into the competition, the team felt confident due to the fact that they did very well in the past few years, including Kayla placing first as an individual at State the year before. They were ready to take home the gold that they have been striving to achieve for years.
This event helps grow students’ knowledge with horses while also teaching them teamwork, time management, and leadership to prepare them for their future in the agriculture field. Along with this, University faculty and industry experts help coordinate the career development events, allowing students to meet and connect with industry representatives while learning about college and career opportunities.

Mrs. Cesario stated that working with this group of girls was a blessing because they taught her more than she could ever teach them. Spending as much time together as they have, the girls have learned how to work together to be able to succeed. Their parents’ support also helped them succeed. All in all, everyone involved with these four amazing girls have grown to be better as a whole.
Have horses caught your heart? Mrs. Cesario suggests that any student interested in this event should take an Agriculture or Veterinary Assisting class and join FFA. Getting involved as early as you can is key so you can get a head start on preparing.
Congratulations to these ladies and good luck to them at nationals in the fall, the crest will be cheering you on!