Kimball FFA wins Farmers Union Quiz Bowl championship aimed to educate youths about farm safety

COVID-19 restrictions at South Dakota State University forced the State FFA Convention to move to Rapid City in 2021, but officials expect the convention to return to Brookings in 2022.

The Kimball FFA Quiz Bowl team competed at the South Dakota Farmers Union Team Up for Safety Quiz Bowl Championship at the South Dakota State Fair on Sat., Sept. 4. Team members from Kimball include, from left to right, Tyler Leheska, Colton Michalek, Jayden Kott and Synch Ness. Photo courtesy of the South Dakota Farmers Union

The Kimball FFA Quiz Bowl put their knowledge to the test at the Farmers Union Team Up for Safety Quiz Bowl Championship at the South Dakota State Fair earlier this month, winning the tournament.

The Kimball FFA chapter qualified to the championships by ranking well enough at the South Dakota State FFA Convention's quiz bowl, which took place in Rapid City in April.

Kimball took on other qualifying FFA chapters from around the state — including Beresford, Hoven and Parker — to see which team could buzz in first to answer questions regarding farm safety.

Kimball was led to victory by FFA chapter members Tyler Leheska, Colton Michalek, Jayden Kott and Synch Ness, as they out-answered Parker's FFA chapter in the championship.

"My kids enjoy participating and they are very excited to have competed well. Winning at an FFA contest is something my kids strive for," Kimball FFA adviser Tracey Walsh said. "I always have a lot of interest in being on the farm safety team at the State FFA convention."


The questions competitors faced covered a wide variety of topics, ranging from power take-off equipment hazards to rules of the road while transporting equipment and machinery.

"Farming can be dangerous and it is very important to know what you are doing and how to do it safely," Ness said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 1 million youth, under the age of 20, live on farms in the U.S. Over half of them do farm-related work. Doug Sombke, a fourth-generation farmer and president and SDFU, points out that agriculture is often listed among the most dangerous occupations in America.

"Just the simple fact that most farms in South Dakota are family farms, means many South Dakota youth either live on farms or have friends who do," Sombke said. "This quiz bowl helps increase awareness of dangers and engages youth with information about how they can stay safe and protect others."

Sombke feels that sponsoring a quiz bowl centering on safety is a great way to get youths involved while also upholding SDFU's mission.

"As an organization, South Dakota Farmers Union is dedicated to supporting family farmers and rural communities. We invest in keeping our rural youth and families safe," Sombke said. "This quiz bowl is a fun way to make youth aware of farm safety and educate them on how to keep themselves and their friends safe."

Walsh sees the value in the program's message, and said her students are always excited to compete.

"The quiz bowl gives FFA members the opportunity to share their knowledge as well as learn new tips about farm safety. My FFA members look forward to the opportunity to participate in the quiz bowl each year at State FFA Convention," Walsh said. "Kudos to SD Farmer's Union for providing these opportunities for our FFA members."


Beresford FFA advisor Bridget Twedt said students in her program are encouraged to participate in the quiz bowl because it offers an opportunity to learn outside the classroom.

"Every opportunity students have to put what they learn in the classroom into practice is a win," Twedt said, adding that the contest underscores the importance of farm safety. "This contest shows students that, 'hey, it's not just Mrs. Twedt who wants us to learn this. The reality is, we need to know this safety stuff.'"

SDFU showcases its mission to farm safety in more ways than just the quiz bowl — it also invested and designed it's custom Farm Safety Trailer, a portable exhibit to help spread the word about the importance of safety on the farm.

A representative from the South Dakota FFA Association said COVID-19 safety procedures at South Dakota State University prevented the convention from happening in Brookings, but they expect this year's convention to return east.

"Kimball FFA was excited to be able to be in-person in Rapid City for the convention, but we are even more excited to be able to participate in more things and look forward to competing in (Career Development Events) and attending the convention in person (in Brookings).

A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021 and now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on local news in Sioux Falls. He also writes regional news spanning across the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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