Wattenbarger enjoys FFA contests

Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Phillip Wattenbarger helps set up trees at Springwater Greenhouse in Marshall. During the summer he works on the landscaping crew.

Malta Bend senior Phillip Wattenbarger speaks passionately about his four years as an FFA member.

"I think FFA is the best organization that we have at our school," said Wattenbarger, who lives in rural Malta Bend. "It's a good way to meet people, and it's a good way to see how good you really are."

Wattenbarger, the son of Jackie and Ron Plattner and Carl and Tina Wattenbarger, will be receiving the State FFA Degree in April at the Missouri FFA Convention in Columbia.

He first joined FFA because his friends were members, and he thought it would give him leadership experience.

"I thought it would help me excel in my speaking, and I thought it would be a lot of fun," he added.

His favorite FFA activity is Career Development Event contests.

"Contest teams are a good way to go out and meet other people interested in the same things you are," he said. "It is also a good way we can show off our school by trying to really compete with other schools and do well."

Although they are a small school, his chapter has done well in several CDE contests in recent years. This year Wattenbarger placed second in district for Poultry and his team placed first overall. Last year, as a Livestock Judging team member, he earned a Group I rating at state, placing 15th. As a sophomore, he earned a Group I rating in Horse Evaluation.

Wattenbarger also enjoyed the chapter's "Caroling for Cans" event organized this year.

"We went around the community and sung to the elderly people, and they gave us cans for the food pantry and we gave them cookies," he said. "That was probably the most fun activity this year."

He serves as vice-president of the chapter this year and served as treasurer for the two previous years. All of it has helped him learn valuable skills.

"FFA teaches you how to become a responsible young adult and teaches you a lot of skills that will help you in life," he said.

Wattenbarger works at Springwater Greenhouse and Landscaping for his Supervised Agriculture Experience.

"My first year I mostly stayed around the greenhouse and just did odd jobs," he said. "Actually the first six weeks all I did was stack bricks. But as I went, I got to work a little more with the plants."

Last summer he traveled with the landscaping crew almost every day and hopes to do so again this summer.

"We would plant, rock and net -- just turn somebody's yard into a really nice looking landscape," he said. "We work a lot with shrubs, and sometimes we work with perennial flowers."

During the spring and summer, he also shows swine at local and state shows, as part of his SAE.

Working at Springwater 35 to 40 hours a week during the summer and up to 15 hours a week during the school year has taught him to be a hard worker.

"It's a hard working, sweaty job, going out in the sun and working for every dollar you make," he said. "It values how you can get better at something. Practice makes perfect, and the harder you work the better it looks for you and the better your bosses think of you."

In additon to working, Wattenbarger keeps busy with other activities including FFA trapshooting. He also serves as vice-president of student council, vice-president of National Honor Society, captain of the basketball, football and track teams, secretary at FFA camp and a member of Students Against Destructive Decisions.

He is a long-time member of 4-H Work to Win, serving as president and vice president. He participates in shooting sports and went to national competition in 2009 in pellet rifle and qualified again this year in Small Bore Rifle (.22 cal.) He has traveled to Savannah, Ga.; Detroit, Mich.; and Rapid City, S.D., for mission trips as a member of the First Baptist Church of Marshall youth group.

In his spare time, Wattenbarger enjoys shooting sports, showing swine, hunting, fishing, reading, watching sports, hanging out with his girlfriend and collecting coins.

In the future, he wants to become a dentist.

"If I get the funds, I'm going to Missouri State University to do the four-year pre-dentistry program, then transfer to UMKC and do graduate work for dentistry," he said. He would like to move to a mid-sized town or stay in Marshall to open a practice.