Ag Biotechnology

2018 Theme:  The Innate Potato


The purpose of the agricultural biotechnology career development event is to encourage FFA members to explore the diversity of the Biotechnology Industry, in terms of basic knowledge, skills and applications of biotechnology to the work place. The areas of agricultural biotechnology have important implications for the animal, plant, food, and pharmaceutical industries. The event requires students to identify materials and tools common to the industry, demonstrate knowledge and understanding of scientific principles and management practices applied in the industry via a written exam, and make observations, draw conclusions and make decisions in evaluating aspects of biotechnology principles.

The event has ties to the following agricultural science curriculum: Introduction to Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources 11000; Animal Biology 11004; Plant Science 11007; Horticulture 12000; Plant Biology 11016; Natural Resources 13000; Biotechnology 12004; Nursery and Landscape 12001; Food Science 14000; Advanced Food Science 14001; Agronomic Science 11008; Agriculture 115.

Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (AFNR) Career Cluster Content Standards

With the recommendation of the National FFA Board of Directors, all National FFA programs have incorporated these standards to guide the direction and content of program materials and activities. Refer to Appendix A in this chapter of the handbook for a complete list of the measurable activities that participants will carry out in this event. For details about the incorporation of AFNR standards, refer to the Introduction chapter of the CDE handbook.


Leah Sandall
279L Plant Science Hall 
Lincoln, NE 68583-0915

Event Information

  1. Teams will consist of three to four members. All members will be scored and the top three scores, in each event area, will count towards the team total.
  2. It is highly recommended that participants wear FFA Official Dress for this event.
  3. During the practicum portion of the event, all team members will work together. 
  4. Team members may utilize computers for the practicum portion of the event. Any team members utilizing the computers in any way not required for the contest is subject to disqualification.
  5. Any participant in possession of a smartphone in the event area is subject to disqualification.


Each year, the Ag Biotechnology CDE committee will release event specifications for the next year. The specifications will outline the topical area to be addressed for the practicum portion of the event, as well as specific training materials.

1. Each contestant shall complete the event in the time allotted: 

  1. The identification of materials and tools must be completed in 30 minutes. 
  2. The practicum section must be completed in 60 minutes. 
  3. The written examination must be completed in 30 minutes.

2. Observers are not permitted in the event area while the event is in progress.

Required Supplies

  • Students must provide pencils and a clip board.
  • Students must also provide one laptop computer or tablet for use during the practicum.
  • No smartphones will be permitted during the practicum.
  • After arriving on-campus, students should request Guest wireless access before the Ag Biotechnology contest begins.

Written Test (150 points/student; 450 points/team)

  1. The written test is designed to evaluate participants’ knowledge in biological concepts related to the biotechnology industry. The test will consist of 50 questions which require the application of biological principles.
  2. Test may be presented in either computer or bubble format.
  3. Students must provide pencil for the written test.
  4. Scratch paper will be provided.
  5. Students will have 30 minutes to complete this section. Contestants will be allowed to work at their own pace.

Practicum (75 points/individual; 300 points/team)

1. This practicum is designed to evaluate participants’ ability to evaluate a problem set using information provided. The practicum may include a combination of the following: 

  • Utilizing biological information
  • Research (onsite) a situation relevant to the biotechnology industry
  • Determining supporting facts in solving the situation

For the practicum portion of the contest, team members will be asked to find and distill information, utilizing resources provided, rather than memorize information.

2. Research resources and blank paper will be provided. Contestants should provide one
laptop computer or tablet per group.

3. Students will have 60 minutes to complete this section. Contestants will be allowed to work at their own pace.

4. Students will work on the practicum and put together a written presentation (ex. Poster, booklet).

Identification of Materials and Tools (25 points/student; 75 points/team)

  1. Twenty-five specimens will be selected from the 56 materials and tools listed on the Biotechnology identification list.
  2. Specimens will be identified on an individual basis, with 30 minutes.
  3. Materials and tools to identify will be presented as intact specimens, models, or high quality photographs.
  4. Each specimen will be designated with a number. Students fill in the answer sheet with the appropriate number in the space next to the specimen’s name on the official scorecard.
  5. One point will be given for each correctly identified specimen.
  6. Under no circumstances is any student allowed to touch or handle the photos or specimen used as part of the event. Any infraction of this policy is sufficient cause to eliminate the individual from the entire contest. Any contestant looking at the identification form of another contestant will be automatically disqualified.


Participants will be ranked in numerical order on the basis of the final score to be determined by each judge without consultation. The judge’s ranking of each participant then shall be added, and the winner will be that participant whose total ranking is the lowest. Other placing will be determined in the same manner (low point method of selection). Weighted rank scoring will be implemented to maintain point value emphasis between individual and team events. The criteria and points can be found on the scorecards in Appendix B.

Event Points
Written Test (50 questions) 150 pts/member 450 pts/member
Identification (25 specimens) 25 pts/member 75 pts/team


A. Team tiebreakers will be settled in the following order:
1. Practicum score
2. Combined individual test scores
3. Combined individual identification scores

B. Individuals tiebreakers will be settled in the following order:
1. Test score
2. Identification score
3. Practicum score


Awards will be presented during the Nebraska State FFA CDE Award Ceremony. Awards will be presented to individuals and/or teams based upon their rankings. Awards for the top 3 teams and top 3 individual places.

References/Study Information

This list of references is not intended to be all-inclusive. The Journey of a Gene website  will be a key resource for preparing for the Ag Biotechnology CDE. Other sources may be utilized, and teachers are encouraged to make use of the very best instructional materials available. The following list contains references that may prove helpful during event preparation.

Resource materials, prior exams, practicum, identification: Find these items under the ‘Test Your Knowledge’ section at

Identification list:

1. DNA
2. Micro-Pipet Tips
3. DNA strand
4. Micropipetter
5. Electrophoresis casting tray
6. Water Bath
7. Electrophoresis
8. Agar gel
9. Beaker
10. Graduated cylinder
11. Protein test strip
12. Forceps
13. Thermal cycler
14. Petri dish
15. Incubator
16. Micro-Centrifuge Tubes
17. Centrifuge
18. Hand planter
19. Pipet Tips
20. Microscope Slides
21. Microscope
22. Hot plate
23. Balance Scale
24. Sepal
25. Anther
26. Filament
27. Stamen
28. Pistil
29. Style
30. Stigma
31. Ovary
32. Ovule
33. Silk
34. Tassel
35. Pollen
36. Tassel bag
37. Shoot bag
38. Central Vacuole
39. Nucleus
40. Cell wall
41. Chromosomes
42. Loading Gel Electrophoresis
43. Mortar and pestle
44. Punnett square to predict F2
45. Punnett square to predict F1
46. Gene gun
47. Gene gun ammunition
48. Pollen
49. Tissue Culture Plant
50. Detasseling crew
51. Pollinating stigmas
52. Removing Anthers
53. Transgene design
54. Hybrid Seed Production field
55. Genetic material structure
56. Isolated DNA