. Cardington FFA Members pictured outside of the Chicago High School of Agricultural Sciences. Photo provided by Erin Wollett.

Cardington FFA members visit Chicago

By Bethany Starlin, OCJ FFA reporter

The Cardington FFA Chapter sent 44 students and 14 chaperones on a three-day, cultural immersion experience to Chicago this past March. 

“The main purpose of the trip was to let students see and experience things that they wouldn’t have the opportunity to do otherwise. For a lot of them, this is their first cultural experience outside of central Ohio,” said Erin Wollett, Cardington-Lincoln agriscience educator and FFA advisor.  

The group began their trip with a stop at the Albanese Candy Factory en route to Chicago followed by a show by the Blue Man Group. They spent much of the next day seeing many famous landmarks in downtown Chicago.

While exploring the downtown area, the group visited the Willis Tower, China Town, WhirlyBall, the John Hancock Center and Lake Michigan. After a full day of sightseeing and tours, they had the opportunity to visit the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences and learn about urban agriculture. 

“While touring the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, students gained new perspectives through meeting with those who attend the school, heard about the opportunities they have and learned about their facilities,” Wollett said. “Similar to our group, they are both agriculture students and FFA members, but their view of agriculture is so different from what our students experience.”

For chapter members, the school visit was a great reminder of the diverse experiences and perspectives represented within the National FFA Organization. 

“It’s important that we continue to cater to members who come from a traditional agriculture background but it is also extremely important that we allow students like those at Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences to explore agriculture and be a part of our organization,” said Brooke Clapham, Cardington FFA Chapter President.

The final day of the trip was spent exploring Fair Oaks Farms, the top agritourism location in the Midwest. While at Fair Oaks Farms, the group participated in the hog, dairy and crop experiences.

Cardington FFA Members at the hog experience at Fair Oaks Farms. Photo provided by Erin Wollett

“A lot of our students are used to production agriculture, but to appreciate a place that has built themselves around agritourism and educating the public on production practices is neat to see,” Wollett said. 

Throughout the past two years, the chapter was forced to either transform or transition their travel opportunities due to the pandemic, making this trip much more meaningful to chapter members. 
“We haven’t had many opportunities to travel because of the pandemic so it was great to spend a few days with some of my closest peers and make so many memories,” Clapham said.

Members of the Cardington FFA Chapter shared their trip highlights.

“My favorite part of the trip was seeing the Blue Man Group. It was so different from anything I’ve seen before. It was really neat for students who haven’t seen a show like that to get a feel for broadway-type entertainment.” — Brooke Clapham, Cardington FFA Chapter President

“My favorite part of the trip was the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences that we went to. It was just very interesting to see how they did things in their FFA chapter in Chicago compared to back home with our chapter!” — Joe Denney, Cardington FFA Chapter Vice President

“I had a lot of fun going to the Willis Tower! It was really neat to look out across the city and see all of the rooftop gardens, the buildings from above and Lake Michigan.” — Hazel Jolliff, Cardington FFA Chapter Reporter

“My favorite thing that we did was visit the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. I liked that they showed us their classes and the group in charge of our visit were so welcoming, they answered all of our questions and gave us a lot of insight on how their school worked! — Ella Struck, Cardington FFA Assistant Treasurer

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