Mary Steves of Escalon, Calif., a senior at Escalon High School in Escalon and member of the Escalon FFA Chapter, conducted research comparing the immune responses of Barbados Blackbelly hair sheep and Suffolk crossbred sheep to gastrointestinal nematodes. Her study concluded that hair sheep produce a greater immune response. Now this research has also won her top honors.
Steves was named Agriscience Student of the Year at the 84th National FFA Convention during an onstage ceremony and was presented with a scholarship.
“Knowing there is a difference in resistance, future studies may include performing the same research on offspring from a cross of hair sheep with typical wool-type sheep breeds European in origin, such as the Suffolk, which would hopefully generate data that might be useful for sheep producers looking to increase parasite resistance and decrease losses from parasite infections by a more practical and more economical means through crossbreeding,” she said.
Steves is currently serving as the 2011-12 California Association FFA state secretary and after high school plans to attend California State University at Chico and major in animal science. She is the daughter of Lisa and Rob Steves, and her FFA advisors are Jennifer Terpstra, Stacy Ingalls and Bruce Campbell.
The National FFA Agriscience Student of the Year program recognizes high school students who, through scientific research and reasoning, find creative solutions to challenges within the field of agriculture. Eight national finalists are selected for the student of the year award. Those competing to win the honor develop hypotheses, conduct research and develop theories pertaining to an agricultural issue and report findings to a panel of judges with a detailed application, written report, display, presentation and an interview.
To qualify for the honor, FFA members must be a junior or senior in high school or a freshman in college majoring in an agriculture-related field and heir research must have been initiated while in high school.
The National FFA Agriscience Student of the year is sponsored by Monsanto as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.
Formerly known as Future Farmers of America, the National FFA Organization provides agricultural education to more than 540,379 student members in grades seven through 12 who belong to one of 7,489 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.