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The Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology


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2 nd Annual JCAST Olympics:

The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of the Watermelon?!


Waiting for the Go! signal at the Watermelon Relay.

Not to be outdone by this summer s Olympics in Beijing, the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology held its 2 nd Annual JCAST Olympics and Barbeque on Friday, September 5. While the lawn between the dean s office and the Satellite Student Union might not have provided the pomp and circumstance of the opening ceremonies in China, for a few excitement-packed hours, sports-enthusiasts could see the athletic prowess of the College s students, faculty, and staff as they rolled watermelons across the lawn with their heads, bucked giant bales of hay, and used sponges to fill a bucket with wine in a Viticulture and Enology-inspired relay. And with Dean Charles Boyer acting as the BBQ Master, and Associate Dean Sandra Witte as the official referee?...who needed Michael Phelps?!


In just two years, the JCAST Olympics, an event organized and run by student volunteers, have not only generated increased interest and participation from both students and faculty/staff, but seem headed for the record books as an annual welcome back event that has truly become part of JCAST culture. Natalie Ryan, an Agricultural Ambassador and a junior majoring in Agricultural Education, has helped organize the Olympics each year, and has seen its success grow. She said that the original intent, which has remained, was to do something early in each new academic year that would bring the entire College together something that would make everyone in JCAST feel like part of the same community. The various departments already do their own welcome back events that include students, and there are also a variety of events aimed at faculty, she explained. But there really wasn t anything that brought everyone together. The whole purpose is to encourage a relationship between students, faculty, and staff, she went on. And we do this in relationship with the dean. He s a strong proponent of making sure students know the dean s office is for them.


The Young and the Rest of Us team at the hay event.

And Dean Boyer as well as Associate Dean Witte definitely go all out in making this known. They were both troopers, Ryan said of their respective roles as BBQ Master and referee. They dressed up and played their roles to perfection. This is so great for students, as it takes the intimidation factor out. Ryan also credited Teresa Ramos, Assistant to the Associate Dean, with playing a large part in assisting the student committee with organization.


The JCAST Olympics involves events, or competitions, that are representative of each department in the College. This year, for instance, the events included the following: the Watermelon Crawl, where relay teams had to move a miniature watermelon from one side of the field to the next using their heads, to represent Plant Science; the Price is Right, where teams guessed the correct price of a variety of grocery store items, to represent Child, Family, and Consumer Sciences; How Do You Measure Up?, where teams measured a variety of objects, charting them, and calculating the mean, median, and mode, to represent Agricultural Economics; a Hay Bucking Relay to represent Animal Science and Agricultural Education; Nail Driving, another relay where team members each had one hit with a hammer to drive a nail into a piece of wood, to represent Industrial Technology; a Wine Sponge Relay, where teams had to use a sponge to absorb wine (which was actually Kool-Aid) and bring it downfield to fill a bucket, to represent Viticulture and Enology; and Blind Cake Decorating, where one team member was blindfolded while teammates coached him/her on decorating a cake, to represent Food Science and Nutrition.


Associate Dean, Dr. Sandy Witte, displays her customized referee shirt.

Everyone in the College is invited to bring a 6- to 10-person team, and while teams were primarily composed of students the first year (the only team composed entirely of faculty was from the Department of Child, Family, and Consumer Sciences), teams this year included a larger mix of students, faculty and staff. This year we really had a good turnout from every department, Ryan said. And that s happened mostly through just word-of-mouth. The Jordan College of Ag is really fun in that we re a big college, but we all get along. And really, a lot of that has to do with the Department Administrative Assistants who do so much work in getting the word out to students who the committee members don t have a lot of contact with...Without those ladies, this event would not happen.
Family members were even included in the competition, as the Food Science and Nutrition Department fielded a team named Food Science and Kids that included faculty members children. Some teams had clever names, such as one of the Child, Family, and Consumer Sciences teams, which, being composed of both faculty and students, named themselves The Young and the Rest of Us.


It was the Agricultural Ambassadors team who won the overall competition, and for freshman Agricultural Education major, Frank Roche, the JCAST Olympics and Barbeque absolutely accomplished what Ryan said it was supposed to. It really affected my experience here because it really let me get to know a lot of the kids within JCAST. I got to meet my classmates at a better level, and it really helped me get outta my shell, he said.


Roche was also impressed by the enthusiastic participation of the staff, professors, and administration. He thought it was really cool that some of his professors were in the competition, and said that the fact that they were mingling with the students and having as much fun as we were was one of the best things about the event.


With two successful JCAST Olympics behind them now, Ryan said the plan is to continue with the event. A call will go out for student volunteers at the end of the spring semester, and she said they hope to attract more participation on the organizing committee from across the College. Certainly one of the most creative aspects of the organization goes into dreaming up the events for the actual competition. What student wouldn t want to help plan events like a Watermelon Crawl for their professors and peers?



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