Shelton student earns national honor
A Shelton student recently earned some national recognition.
Klaudia Poplawski, a student at the Trumbull Agriscience Center, along with Trumbull High junior Margaret Brady, recently placed in the top three nationally in their categories at the Future Farmers of America (FFA) National Convention in Indianapolis.The two were part of a team of students from town who made the trek to the Midwest to compete in the annual event.
Walking into the show ring at the FFA convention, Brady said she could feel the expectation, or lack thereof, from her fellow dairy cow competitors.
“The kids from Wisconsin, or Tennessee, they think of the students from Connecticut as being city kids,” said Brady, who was a silver medalist in dairy cow presentation. “They don’t think of us as knowing about agriculture.”
If Margaret showed that agriculture was alive and well in the suburbs, Klaudia’s bronze medal result leaned more toward the science side of agriscience. Her six-minute speech on genetic modification of plants, and the potential impact on human health, impressed the judges with its research and delivery.
“A lot of the students from the Southern states hire professional research and speech coaches to prepare them for nationals, and that just doesn’t happen in Connecticut,” she said. “I practiced my speech in front of classmates, and when I was home, I spoke in front of my dog so I could get used to distractions.”
Klaudia said her family has had an agricultural background, with some relatives in Poland still living on farms, but didn’t consider agriculture to be a viable career choice until she learned of the center.
“This is the ’burbs,” she said. “You don’t really think about farming here.”
When she enrolled at the center, Klaudia said her initial plan was to become a veterinarian. That plan quickly fell through, though.
“I realized I really don’t like seeing sick animals,” she said.
Instead she gravitated more toward research, enjoying the “lab coat” aspect of her studies. She said she plans to continue that career path in college. Klaudia already has two offers of academic scholarships at American universities, but also didn’t rule out taking advantage of her dual citizenship to study agricultural science in Poland.
In addition to the competitive side of the FFA convention, students from Shelton and Trumbull also got to spend four days attending college and career seminars and hands-on instructional sessions. They also got to spend time with other competitors from around the country.
“That’s the great thing about the agricultural programs, the kids are really great,” said Lauren Bespuda, the girls’ teacher. “They make a lot of friends over the four days.”