Junior Mackenzie Furlong qualifies for SAE state competition


Solid Speaking. Kenzie Casper and Mackenzie Furlong did an excellent job representing Galena at District Proficiency Interviews. Furlong won the Wildlife Management category for her pheasant project and advanced to the state contest on March 23.

A SAE is a supervised agricultural experience that all FFA members have to participate in. It is a project that students choose to do to help either themselves grow or to help the world around them.

The summer before her sophomore year, now junior Mackenzie Furlong took a big leap in her SAE. For Furlong, the choice for her SAE, meant raising pheasants.

Agriculture teacher, Mrs. Faulkner, approached Furlong about applying for a $1,000 grant that could be put towards an SAE. When Mackenzie received the grant, she decided to invest in pheasant chicks.

Her choice was clear because her grandfather had once raised pheasants and she knew she wanted to do something with animals.

She ended up with around 200 birds, and a lot of work ahead of her. Daily chores of feeding, watering, and checking the coop became a daily part of her routine.

“One of the main things I learned from my SAE was just how devastating predators can be to a flock.” Within two days, a weasel that had found its way into the coop almost took out her entire population. “I wasn’t expecting one weasel to do that much damage in only a day or two.”

Despite the struggles of raising pheasants, Furlong has turned her school project into a business and a learning experience. Her efforts, in fact, were so impressive that she also went to proficiency interviews and advanced to state competition.

At the proficiency interviews Furlong was asked questions about her SAE, tested on basic knowledge, and shared how her SAE has improved herself and the agriculture industry.

Furlong took second place at State Proficiency Interviews. “There’s so much I’ve learned from this SAE. I’m so happy I took the chance because I would have missed out on so much.”