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Missoula FFA team wins Food Science and Technology National Championship

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Posted at 2:33 PM, Nov 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-03 16:33:48-04

MISSOULA - Out of 68,000 competitors, one Missoula team brought home the gold —making history for not only Montana but for Missoula as well.

"We didn't even think we were going to make top four. And then at the ceremony, they announced the top four and we weren't fourth,” said Missoula Future Farmers of America (FFA) member Joel Standley.

“They call third it wasn't us," added teammate, Gus Turner. "[We thought] 'Oh my goodness'… [we are] gonna get second, they call second and it's not us, it was Ohio.”

“We all kind of just looked at each other like, are you serious?,” recalled team member Shaun Billingsley.

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Out of all the medals and plaques hanging on the wall, there isn’t a single first place national championship — until now.

The Missoula FFA team — comprised of Turner, Billingsley, and Joel and Claire Standley, won the National FFA Food Science and Technology competition in Indianapolis.

“All throughout the summer we'd all kind of joked about you know, our coach Miss Stanley would be 'Oh, yeah, you know, guys like we actually have a chance at winning this,' said Billingsley. 'No, we don't.' There's no way and then we're actually sitting there and we actually won the contest. It was just a crazy experience.”

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“So we picked up Joel we were throwing them up in the air," recalled Turner. "And it was just awesome. It was just the greatest experience that any of us are going to ever have in our lives probably for at least until we got to high school.”

The team practiced and studied for hours every day from April until October, testing their knowledge of all things food and agriculture with written and practical tests.

“All summer we worked hard and studied a bunch of different tests," Standley told MTN News. "I think it was 18 tests that we took overall.”

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And hard work pays off. It’s the first time a Montana FFA team has won since 2009.

As if breaking that streak wasn’t big enough, it is the first time a Missoula FFA team has ever won a national championship.

“It's just crazy to think that in all of this time in history, for however long Missoula has been around, never has this ever happened before," said Standley. "And it's just crazy to think that we went and we won just feels unreal. Like a dream that I need to wake up from.”

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