Rangeviews, Oral, S.D.
During this national FFA week, held annually from Feb. 20-27, the Hot Springs, S.D., chapter is now in its sixth year. The chapter now has 38 members or 14% of the enrolled high school students. Area alumni worked for several years to get the program off the ground and become one of 7,859 chapters in the U.S. Even though the town is in the middle of agricultural production areas including the largest feedlot in South Dakota, a 12,000-acre irrigation project to hundreds of head of cattle and the necessary pasture, Hot Springs has not had agricultural classes per se. They have offered vocational shop classes. FFA opened a new outlet in the community and has been well received because it emphasizes the vast choices related to agriculture. I was at one of the school board meetings when FFA was discussed. Among the sitting school board members were a rancher, a retired history teacher, an avid hunter and employees of a national park. During the presentations by alumni, an FFA spokesman, and a potential FFA member, the school board could relate that each of their own career areas could be positively affected by the organized training.
The Hot Springs chapter is making its mark. At the virtual state convention in 2020, a Hot Springs team placed first in the agronomy competition. Individually, on that team Rachel Rickenbach placed first, Megan Sanders second and Will Kuhl won third. On a normal year, this would have let this team represent the Hot Springs chapter at the National FFA convention in Indianapolis; it ended up as a virtual event also. Additional awards for the Hot Springs chapter at the 2020 state convention were the third place team in floriculture with individual Mallaigh McCarthy finishing in the top 10. The horse judging team came in at fifth place with Taylor Pulscher earning fifth, individually.
Hot Springs was one of several West River schools that worked the first-ever FFA booth at the 2021 Black Hills Stock Show. The Sutton family, producers of Rodeo Rapid City, invited FFA to have the booth, sponsored by Rodeo Rapid City, South Dakota Farm Bureau and the South Dakota FFA Foundation.
Educational displays on agricultural topics were available and each day presenters spoke on timely topics. A highlight for the Hot Springs chapter was Beef Day, hosted by the S.D. Beef Industry Council. That day featured Miss Rodeo America, Jordan Tierney, from Oral, who is well known to many of the Hot Springs members and to Hot Springs’ FFA advisor, Tanna White.
For the first time in its 93 years, the S.D. State FFA Convention will take place in Rapid City, instead of at South Dakota State University in Brookings. The dates are April 11-13. South Dakota’s 95 chapters will be represented at the Kjerstad Events Center on the Central States Fairgrounds and at Western Dakota Technical College.
FFA members are widely recognized by one thing — their blue jackets, adopted in 1933. When you see a student wearing one you know you are viewing the cream of the crop in our youth.
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