When Samuel Gostomski of the Bandera FFA Chapter and his mentor, Joseph Burke, brainstormed ideas for his senior agriscience project, he decided to focus on the drought but not in the traditional sense.

“Drought is a big deal in south Texas,” Gostomski says. “I wanted to focus on the social sciences aspect of it to see how it impacts our local economy.”

The high school senior who has since graduated, conducted research to learn how small businesses in Bandera County were affected by drought, as well as owners’ perceptions. Through his research, he found many misconceptions among small business owners, and his goal was to figure out where the disconnect happened.

Gostomski’s ultimate goal was to help better educate local business owners on how to deal with the effects of the drought through the local AgriLife Extension Service office and other resources.

Gostomski’s research earned him several awards and accolades, including the top prize in his category at the National FFA Science Fair. “It was really exciting and unexpected to win,” Gostomski says.

“I was very humbled, because there were so many great projects at the fairs.”

He adds that as far as the impact of his research, the amount of attention it has received speaks for itself.

“It’s really exciting that people are interested in my work and the topic of our local economy,” he says. The research helped him realize his career path, which he plans to pursue at Baylor University.

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