High Springs teen captures national agriscience honors


Published: Monday, November 4, 2013 at 5:49 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 4, 2013 at 5:49 p.m.

A 13-year-old High Springs boy last week became the youngest person ever to win a first-place award at the National Future Farmers of America Agriscience Fair.

Cody Emerson, a seventh-grader at High Springs Community School, won in the Food Product and Processing category with his project, “Which Red Meat Do Consumers Prefer?”

Cody was also the only student from Florida to take home an award from the event, held in Louisville, Ky.

“Feels good,” Cody said by phone on Monday.

To qualify for the national competition, Cody first had to win overall in his category at the Florida State FFA convention in June, where he competed against students in grades seven through 12.

Then, an FFA committee selected the 15 best students per category, nationwide, to compete in the National Agriscience Fair. The categories are Animal Systems, Environmental Services/Natural Resource Systems, Food and Product Processing, Plant Systems, Social Systems, and Power, Structural and Technical Systems.

“I was honored to just be in the 15,” said Cody, who again competed against many older students.

That didn’t make him nervous, though.

“I didn’t take into account age,” he said. “Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you’re more skilled.”

Cody said he’s only been doing FFA since last school year, but farming has been a big part of his family’s life. The Emersons have had a farm since before he was born, and Cody’s grandfather was an administrator for the Farm Bureau.

Cody harvested his own deer for his project, in which he asked 32 consumers to sample deer meat and beef, then used the Likert scale for factors like appearance, texture and taste to determine which meat they liked better.

Overall, people preferred beef, although Cody said deer meat rated higher in appearance.

In Louisville, Cody had to present those findings to a panel of judges who interviewed him about the project.

He received $350 for winning first place.

“It was quite an accomplishment for him,” said his proud mother, Trina Emerson.

Contact Erin Jester at 338-3166 or erin.jester@gainesville.com.

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