By Brad Hoggatt, RESC Correspondent
In 1928, in a meeting room in the Baltimore Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, 33 young farm-boys charted a course for their future, affecting the lives of millions of students thereafter. At this initial meeting, the FFA Chapter (Future Farmers of America) began. At the time of its inception, the FFA was created for those living and working on farms across the United States, and for those who wished to study agriculture. Today, with its name changed to represent the diverse and changing interests of members and reflect the expanded agricultural opportunities encompassing science, business and technology, in addition to production farming, the National FFA Organization is 650,000 members strong.
At Union City Junior/ Senior High School, FFA is one of the largest co-curricular clubs in which students can participate. It is a part of a 3-step model that includes Classroom Instruction, FFA Activities, and Supervised Agricultural Experience Programs that allow students to gain career skills in Agriculture. Union City is blessed to have two FFA Advisers, Ron Smith and Cindy (Mote) Nunez, who oversee all classes and organizational meetings. With two advisers, students at UCJSHS have the opportunity to enroll in more agriculturally based classes while having greater chances to participate in the numerous FFA activities that are planned locally, regionally, and nationally.
According to Nunez, “FFA offers a wide variety of Career Development Events (CDE’s) and Leadership Development Events. These events are offered at the county, district, state, and national levels. Students can compete in contests ranging from livestock, soils, crops, forestry, dairy judging, to leadership contests such as demonstrations, public speaking, and creed speaking.” Adds Smith, “Our students are also able to participate in hands-on CDE’s like Small Engines and Welding because of us having two advisers and a strong, parental support team.” Recently, the UCJSHS FFA Chapter has seen great success at these events and competitions. The Dairy Foods, Dairy, and Crops teams have qualified for the state, and Meats teams placed 4th and 5th at the state level. The Soils and Dairy Teams placed first in Randolph County, and the Small Engines and Soils teams placed very high in the District. As individuals, Derick Williams placed first in the District and top-6 in the state in the Extemporaneous Public Speaking contest, and Rylan Glunt qualified for the State Soils CDE as a Jr. Individual. Katie Reichard placed first in the Soils CDE for the second straight year, and Ian Glunt and Braydon Hoggatt placed 6th in the very competitive District 9 Small Engines CDE.
In order to support the organization’s activities, the 28 members selflessly raise the funds needed for a successful Chapter. In the fall, the UC members host a hog raffle, in the winter they sell fruits and nuts, and in the spring they sponsor a chicken dinner. Money earned from the group’s fundraisers go toward covering the costs of judging fees, conventions, leadership camps, and community service activities. The UC FFA Alumni also financially support many of the Chapter’s activities, namely the End of Year Banquet.
What started out as a simple group for farmers has grown into one of the nation’s largest organizations. Today, the National FFA Organization remains committed to the individual student, providing a path to achievement in premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. Now, the organization is expanding the nation's view of "traditional" agriculture and finding new ways to infuse agriculture into the classroom. And at Union City Junior/ Senior High School, FFA opportunities are definitely taking root.