Canton FFA students recently harvested success at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

The students won fourth place for their landscape about "Birds and Bees."

Canton FFA Advisor Tom Hojnowski noted that the students spent much time planning and preparing the landscape, which was built to resemble the backyard of a house.

It featured the face of a house, a trellis, bee boxes and a walkway.

In the landscape, the students had a variety of flowers, including alyssum, sunflowers, snapdragons, morning glories, marigolds, petunias, pansies, and zinnias. They even painted the rocks in the walkway with pictures of bird watching and beekeeping.

According to Hojnowski, the students had to start raising the flowers in September and grow them through January. They raised them in the school greenhouse, which required a lot of effort at odd hours, outside of school time - and outside the normal growing season.

Despite the challenges, the students remained dedicated to creating the landscape.

Hojnowski said they grew plants for the landscape that are most likely to draw bees or hummingbirds, in order to meet the theme of their creation. He said the students were given a 10-foot by 15-foot area at the farm show, in which you "can do pretty much what you want to do" to create the landscape.

In addition to growing the plants, the students had to load and haul them all the way to Harrisburg for the farm show. They began the design of the landscape in the spring and early summer.

Hojnowski noted that the Canton FFA used to finish six or seventh in the landscape competition, but that has improved in recent years. Last year, their landscape won second and this year, fourth.

"I'm happy," Hojnowski said.

But that wasn't the students' only success.

They were awarded a check for $800 for their work in the Agriculture Conservation Careers and Technology Project sponsored by Lancaster Farming, according to Hojnowski.

He said they had to select an area of agriculture dealing with conservation and they chose "Agricultural Best Management Practices."

The FFA members interviewed local farmers, Al Herman and Laura Driscoll, about Best Management Practices, which Hojnowski said are practices meant to prevent erosion, conserve soil and soil fertility, and improve animal health.

The students also interviewed employees at the Bradford County Conservation District. With all the interviews in hand, they then made a video.

Six of the students presented on stage at the farm show regarding their video and their research and findings.

According to Hojnowski, the $800 will be used to offset the FFA's expenses at the farm show or future conferences.

He said the students discovered the total process of creating Best Management Practices, which he said takes farmers and the Conservation District a lot of time and work. The farmers and the Conservation District create the BMP's together.

He thought the students learned a lot by taking part in the farm show.

In addition, the students prepared a display on Colony Collapse Disorder affecting bees.

The disorder is killing off bees in massive numbers, which impacts pollination and food production, according to Hojnowski.

"No one knows for certainty what causes this," Hojnowski said.

He said the use or overuse of chemicals in agriculture "could potentially be part of it."

Hojnowski said another possible cause is parasites or organisms that feed on bees.

Hojnowski thanked local beekeepers Glenn and Yvonne Crimbring from Canton, who he said discussed the display with the students, as well as bees and beekeeping.

The students had a map showing the extent of Colony Collapse Disorder. Hojnwoski said the Crimbrings thought "the map should be totally colored in," because they and other beekeepers feel that every state is impacted in a major way by the disorder.

First-year jackets went to the following FFA students: Hannah Fleury, Emma Boyd, Stacey Pidcoe, Lauryn Watkins, Victoria Richart, Shayla Swain-Foust, Alyssa Blazer, and Alexandra Smith. Macy Castle, who also received a first-year jacket, was unable to make it to Farm Show.

FFA students Caleb Jackson, Will Unruh, Madison Riggs, Autum McPherson, and Whitney Baxter received Keystone Degrees.

Hojnowski said the FFA students also made a presentation on the differences between English and Western horseback riding and judging.

Hojnowski said the students spent a total of six days at the farm show, and made a total of four trips back and forth to Harrisburg for the event as they were transporting items needed for the farm show.

It's the Canton FFA's twelfth year going to the farm show.

Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: reviewtroy@thedailyreview.com.