Cambridge FFA state champs run their own businesses

Mindy Carls

Cambridge FFA has two state champions this year.

Kendra Downing is the 2022 Illinois FFA state proficiency award winner in vegetable production, while Taylor Snook is the state winner in ag mechanics design and fabrication.

They were selected on Saturday, March 26, in Decatur.

Downing is the daughter of Zane and Crista Downing of Cambridge. Snook’s parents are Wade and Candy Snook of Cambridge. Their ag teacher and FFA advisor is Trent Taber.

For her project, Downing runs the Downing Daughters’ Pumpkin Patch. Every year she grows three acres of pumpkins and squash, and she also has a sweet corn patch.

“I scout them over the summer for weed, insect and disease pressure,” she said. “As the crops mature, I harvest them and sell them to my customers at the farm.”

Through working with customers in the fall and advertising her products on Facebook, Downing has improved her communications skills.

“The skills that I have learned will help me in my future as I hope to operate a diverse specialty farm,” the junior said.

Snook’s project is Taylor’s Innovations, a company that creates a wide variety of rustic wooden projects.

“On my first day of agriculture classes, I began keeping accurate records of the work I do in creating rustic wood projects to sell to my community,” the sophomore said.

In 2020 he created 25 decorative trees. A neighbor gave Snook some pallet wood, and in 2021 he used it to make 40 decorative crosses.

“As an entrepreneur, my day-to-day tasks change based on what needs to be completed,” he said. “My most common tasks include financial analysis, pallet board removal, and wood crafting. I also use a variety of equipment including a miter saw and nail gun.

“In the future, I hope to use the skills I have learned, including financial analysis and time management, to become successful in college,” Snook said.

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