Local Student Wins Honors in State FFA Competition

FFA State Wiring Champion 2016

(From left) Scott Wheatley, FFA advisor; Easton Payne, senior at Banks County High School and second place winner in the 2016 State Wiring Contest; and Nelson McGinnis, residential sales representative and program coordinator with Jackson EMC. 

Banks County High School Senior Easton Payne recently placed second in the State EMC/FFA State Agricultural Education Career Development Event (CDE), a competition that stresses the importance of electrical safety while helping sharpen students’ wiring skills.

Payne received $750 for his second place finish and a certificate honoring his achievements.

Earlier, Payne came in second place in the Area II competition in Jackson County, advancing him to the state level where he competed with the top 12 finalists.

The 41 EMCs in Georgia, including Jackson EMC and FFA chapters across the state, host and sponsor FFA career events such as the wiring contest.

“We’re pleased to play a part in the electrical wiring contest and hands-on learning experience for students,” says Nelson McGinnis, residential sales representative and program coordinator with Jackson EMC. “Educational programs aimed at students to promote the safe and efficient use of electricity are a natural fit for us.”

In addition to the practical wiring exercise, participants are required to complete a problem-solving multiple-choice exam and give a presentation describing the necessary steps to complete a specific electrical wiring task.

“A lot of students learn best by ‘doing’ and that’s what makes this program great,” McGinnis added. “They understand it better because they are part of the learning process and not just spectators.”

According to McGinnis, while winning the contest has obvious benefits, EMC representatives and students have come to appreciate an even greater benefit of the CDE: in some cases, student participation has served as the catalyst for pursuing college degree programs and career goals. In fact, a number of students have been inspired to pursue an education in the electric industry or agriculture. Some have graduated with engineering degrees, completed electrical courses at technical colleges and eventually landed jobs in their area of study. 

Jackson EMC is a member-owned cooperative providing electricity and related services to more than 219,000 members in Banks, Barrow, Clarke, Franklin, Gwinnett, Hall, Jackson, Lumpkin, Madison and Oglethorpe counties.

The FFA is a national organization of nearly 500,000 members preparing for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture. An integral part of the agricultural education program in public schools, FFA’s mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.