A pair of Science Hill High School students presented a research project during the 94th annual Tennessee FFA Convention a few weeks ago in Gatlinburg. Science Hill sophomore Emma Tubul and junior Simon Grieger presented in the social science category.
The duo distributed a survey throughout their community that asked different questions about the person's dealings with opioids. They used that data to gather information about demographics and then the effects that opioids are having on rural America. Their hypothesis was proven throughout their research that opioids are having a bigger effect on rural America than on suburban or urban communities.
“I am so proud of Simon and Emma for the work they put into their project,” Science Hill horticulture teacher and FFA sponsor Chris Dockery said. “They took a big risk, but they faced the challenge, put in the work and did a great job.”
Because of the way the categories in the competition are set up, the students also had to compete in the most competitive category.
“That was an added hurdle in an already intense project,” said Dockery. “However, they did not let that intimidate them and they went on to have an excellent project.”
Grieger and Tubul both mentioned being nervous at the beginning of their presentation, but once they started to talk about their research, they quickly became comfortable.
“It was fun. It was a little bit scary going in, but once we started talking it became easier,” Grieger said. “We put a lot of work into our research project, so once we started talking, it all just started to flow really well.”
Grieger noted some research from the American Farm Bureau Association in that 1 in 10 farmers get injured a day on the job. Of those, 1 in 5 walk into a doctor’s office and leave with a prescription for opioids.
“Opioids have a very large effect on the agriculture industry because our farmers and our agriculture workers are very labor-intensive, and they are the backbone of our country,” Grieger said. “Without them, we really wouldn’t have what we have today.”
Tubul said that the topic may seem a little out of the ordinary for an FFA research project, but they wanted to bring awareness to the issue.
“Our survey also showed that a lot of people were unaware of how easy it is for some people to obtain opioids and how addictive they can become for some people,” Tubul said. “It felt good to bring awareness to a difficult situation.”
Besides being in FFA, both students are also enrolled in Dockery’s horticulture classes. With three levels, students work with plants, applying their knowledge to fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, and non-food crops to maximize their health and growth. Careers include plant pathologists, farmers, biochemists, irrigation specialists, horticulture specialists, landscape designers and turf managers.
“I really do enjoy learning about agriculture, we do a land evaluation in the fall to assess soil,” Tubul said. “I just think it’s really fun and interesting.”
For more information about clubs like FFA at Science Hill, visit Sciencehill.jcschools.org. For information about Career and technical education programs at Science Hill, visit www.jcschools.org/cte.