By Meredith Oglesby, OCJ FFA reporter
Each year during the week of George Washington’s birthday, middle school and high school students across the nation celebrate how the FFA organization is making an impact in their state and local communities. FFA week serves as a time for students to share the impact of agricultural education, interact with alumni and celebrate the organization.
The first national FFA week took place in 1948 and was chosen during the week of the first president’s birthday to honor the impact he had on agriculture. This year FFA week was Feb. 22 to 29 and Ohio FFA members were busy executing events and activities to share the story of agriculture and agricultural education.
The Franklin Monroe Chapter, located in Darke County, hosted several events throughout the week for FFA members, school staff and students. FFA members participated in theme days throughout the school week, which included hat day, western day, FFA Wednesday, camo day, and agriculture occupation day. FFA members hosted a cornhole tournament as well as career development event (CDE) trivia events during the lunch periods. During the CDE trivia events, FFA members who have participated in CDEs are able to set up a mock contest for students throughout the school to try.
“We tend to get some new faces showing up in the ag department for events like the cornhole tournament,” said Kevin Bergman, Franklin Monroe agricultural educator. “And setting the activities up in the cafeteria is a great way to let all of the students know about the various contests our students are involved in and what each one looks like.”
The chapter also hosted a staff appreciation lunch to thank them for their support throughout the school year. The chapter officers grilled hamburgers and hotdogs for the staff and members in the chapter.
“We have found the attendance is better at lunch [than breakfast]. It is also easier to get members to grill burgers at 11 a.m. than it is to get them to make eggs at 6 a.m.,” he said.
FFA week is a time to reflect on the opportunities, skills and knowledge the organization provides for students.
“Through activities, CDEs, presentations and leadership events, students become better communicators and team players,” Bergman said. “There is nothing more powerful than a student who has gained all of the knowledge in the classroom and has taken advantage of opportunities outside of the classroom to sharpen their soft skills.”
The Union Local FFA Chapter in Belmont County also had an exciting FFA week honing their leadership skills, promoting agriculture and thanking their supporters. For the past 14 years, the chapter has hosted a 212-leadership lock in to kick off their FFA week celebration. This year 165 students from 11 schools gathered to learn how to become an effective leader and cultivate those qualities within themselves.
“Students were pushed outside their comfort zones and met new friends,” said Katrina Baker, Union Local Agriscience educator.
During the lock in students also had the chance to watch hypnotist, Mike Bishop, square dance, ride the mechanical bull, play cards and more. For the first time during FFA week, Union Local FFA members visited the elementary school to promote agricultural literacy.
“I was excited to go to the elementary school and read to the younger kids about agriculture!” said Megan Garrison, secretary for Union Local FFA.
FFA members read agricultural related books and also held a school-wide coloring contest with agricultural themed photo.
“The Union Local FFA impacts the community and school in a positive manner by informing both about the importance of agriculture in a positive way,” Garrison said. “The Union Local FFA contributes to bettering the community and school.”
FFA members also wore their official dress as a way to promote FFA throughout the school.
“We hope students ask why they are wearing their blue corduroy jackets so that we can tell them a little about FFA,” Baker said.
Students were excited to share with their classmates why they believe in the FFA organization. The chapter also held a sausage and pancake staff appreciation breakfast, welcomed State Vice President at Large, Alec Ogg and participated in drive-your-tractor-to-school day.
“FFA gives you leadership skills you can use for the rest of your life,” said Colten Luyster, sentinel for Union Local FFA. “You learn more about agriculture and the industry and it has impacted my life and is helping me decide what I will do for a career.”
FFA week serves as a way for students to share their passion for the organization and agriculture with those in their school and community.
“FFA has impacted my life by helping me discover the possibilities within agricultural industry, allowed me to make friends and memories that will last a lifetime and has helped me better each and every one of my leadership skills,” Garrison said.
As an advisor, Baker enjoyed watching students continue to develop as leaders through the various events held throughout the week and added, “The leadership qualities students gain from the FFA organization are priceless.”