From Saturday through Feb. 23, don’t be surprised if you see tomorrow’s farmers, ranchers, veterinarians, ag teachers, biologists, chemists, engineers and entrepreneurs swapping their pick-up trucks and cars for a farm tractor and driving it to school, serving lunch to students and supporters or lending a helping hand within their communities.
And, along the way, they’ll be raising awareness about being good stewards of the land, the importance of agriculture and introducing other students to ag classes and the FFA organization during National FFA Week.
FFA helps the next generation meet new ag challenges in science, business and more, develop and discover unique student talents and explore lots of ag career possibilities. In 1948, the National FFA Board of Directors designated the weeklong tradition that is always held during the week of President George Washington’s birthday Feb. 22, to recognize his legacy as an agriculturist and a farmer, according to the FFA website.
Shelley High School FFA officers and chapter members began preparing for the event last month.
“We’re planning a dress up day, serving school lunch, and other fun group activities like an evening of bowling,” said Mattson Thompson, 17, an SHS senior and FFA Chapter president.
Vice President Kristin Kelley, 18, who is also a senior, said the chapter will be repaying the community for all they’ve done for them, plus invite new students to look into the organization and to visit the ag department. At Shelley High, the ag department is in a separate building next to the high school.
“We invite other students to come out here to the ag building and see what ag has to offer,” Kelley said. “Even if you’re not into ag — there are classes in gardening and plants and woodworking, plus many others.”
Kelley likes to spread the word about the camaraderie in the ag department and in FFA.
“I like to emphasize the friendship and togetherness in the ag department that you don’t have in other classes,” she said. “Out here, we’re like a family here. We really care about each other and how everyone is doing. We have study groups and push one another to do better. We practice for competitions together and help one another bring out our best qualities.”
Some of what FFA teaches includes leadership skills, job interview skills, public speaking, parliamentary procedures and how to apply those through local, state and national competitions and to life in general, Kelley said.
In 1928, a group of young farmers founded FFA, which continues to influence generations that ag is more than planting and harvesting, said Tracie Bates-Orgill, Rigby High School FFA Chapter reporter. She said FFA’s mission is to prepare future generations for the challenges of feeding a growing population.
Last year, Rigby FFA organized a service project and completed about $6,000 of work at restrooms at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds at Rigby when they removed 700 square feet of tile, sinks, counters, baseboards and stalls.
The effort matches up with this year’s theme of “Just One,” regardless of the size — the impact of doing ‘just one’ positive thing can make a difference,” Bates-Orgill said.
During National FFA Week, the chapter’s 200 members will do a community service project, designate one day to “drive your tractor to school,” serve a community appreciation luncheon and host a welding skills competition. They’ll also be competing in four events at the Northern Utah Career Development Invitational in Tremonton, Utah on Tuesday.
“Kids who drive tractors to school will be rewarded with a breakfast hosted by Scotty’s True Value. Bar-S Cattle Co. is sponsoring the community luncheon and the third-annual Weld Off is planned where students put their welding skills to the test,” said Lex Godfrey, Rigby ag teacher and FFA adviser. “It’s a really big week.”
The Weld Off is sponsored by Norco, Pacific Steel and Recycling and Premier Powder Coating, Godfrey said. The week concludes with a pancake breakfast for the entire RHS student body and facility.
For more information about FFA and national FFA week vist, www.ffa.org.