FFA celebrates agriculture during FFA Week, Feb. 20-27 | TheFencePost.com

FFA celebrates agriculture during FFA Week, Feb. 20-27

Shelli Mader Hays, Kan.

Shelli MaderBennett FFA

FFA chapters across the country are gearing up to celebrate the United State’s agricultural heritage during National FFA week on Feb. 20-27. This year’s theme is “Lead Out Loud.”

“FFA week is a perfect time for FFA members to show their schools and communities the positive impact that FFA has on our world,” National FFA spokeswoman Julie Adams said. “FFA is not only an organization that teaches members about agriculture, it also emphasizes leadership skills, respect and volunteerism – all demonstrated through action.”

Like many FFA groups, three Eastern Colorado chapters, Byers High School FFA, Wiggins High School FFA and Bennett High School FFA plan on celebrating the event with activities all week.

“We really try to include the whole school and community during FFA Week,” Byers FFA Advisor William Luna said. “We use it as a week to educate people about agriculture, thank the community for supporting our group and volunteer to help people who need it.”

This year the Byers FFA is hosting a petting zoo for elementary students, wearing FFA blue and gold to school, holding a farm safety day for the community and hosting a hamburger fry. The group is also selling “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” T-shirts. The members are sending all proceeds from their fundraiser to cancer research organizations.

The Wiggins FFA has planned similar events to benefit their school and community. Wiggins FFA members will have a faculty ice cream social and breakfast, a BBQ, a drive your tractor to school day and a series of agriculture contests for members to compete in.

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Rockie Ernst, an FFA adviser and agriculture teacher at Wiggins High School for 25 years, sees FFA week as an opportunity to show the school and community that FFA is a group that is not only about agriculture but about character building.

“FFA teaches members important life skills like leadership, time management and respect through projects and contests,” Ernst said.

Bennett FFA hopes to educate their community about agriculture during the week. The group is especially looking forward to their farmhand Olympics and serving coffee to patrons in local banks and businesses.

“We try to use FFA week to let the community know that our FFA is an active group,” Bennett FFA advisor Rick Jacoby said. “We want people to know that there are still kids out there who are interested in the food and fiber industry.”

FFA Week began in the 1930s as FFA day. The event was always held on Feb. 22 – George Washington’s birthday – to honor him for his contributions to agriculture and the United States. In 1947 the event was expanded to include the whole week of Washington’s Birthday.

“George Washington is not only honored in the opening ceremony of FFA meetings, but his exemplary characteristics of leadership, thrift, good bookkeeping, hard work and respect are qualities we strive for all our members to have,” National FFA spokeswoman Julie Adams said.

FFA was founded as the Future Farmers of America in 1928. The group’s name changed to simply “The National FFA Organization” in 1998 to recognize the wide variety of career opportunities in agriculture.

There are over a half million FFA members who are part of one of the 7,429 FFA chapters. Chapters are located in all 50 states as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

FFA is not a typical high school club. Members must be enrolled in an agricultural education class through their school to join. Though members of FFA aren’t required to compete in contests or activities, FFA provides the opportunity for students to hone their skills in over 50 areas including technology, animal science, horticulture, food science and wildlife management. The goal of the National FFA Organization is to make a positive difference in the lives of their members by developing their potential for leadership and career success through agricultural education.