FFA Week Showcases Nebraska FFA Members
The blue corduroy jackets stand out, and the emblem is unmistakable. FFA members wear this jacket proudly, and from Feb. 18-25, the members will be celebrating FFA week with their schools and communities.
“The week of George Washington’s birthday was designated as National FFA Week in 1947 at a National FFA Board of Directors meeting. FFA Week always runs from Saturday to Saturday, and encompasses February 22, Washington’s birthday,” according to the National FFA.
During FFA week, members will educate the public about agriculture, and their local chapter. Members usually hold a teacher appreciate breakfast, have “Ag Olympics” games for students to participate in, speak to the public about ag, hold fundraisers, and perform community service.
“I think that it is a chance to showcase what FFA is doing not just in communities, but also for the students. During this week the chapters get to show off all the cool things that they are doing and show their appreciation for the community,” said Donelle Johnson, Executive Director for Nebraska FFA.
Each chapter is different in what they do. In Nebraska, FFA Week is when the state officer team travels to chapters around the state, meeting the students and giving workshops.
“The chapter visit program is cool. We get to go out and meet every member, even those who are in the classes who aren’t in FFA. Chapter visits give us a unique opportunity to see members who might not be really involved, and we can encourage them to do more,” said Vance Heyer, state Secretary.
Heyer wrote and presented a workshop on investigating agricultural education through FFA. “FFA and ag education provide students with a fun way to gain skills and knowledge that are relevant to the most relevant industry in our daily lives, which is agriculture,” he said.
He believes FFA is important to students for many reasons. “First of all, it gives students the basic knowledge of agriculture. We have huge food demands that need to be met, and we need educated people to meet those demands. FFA also gives students the leadership they need to be in the ag industry. The people who will be leaders are in ag school now. Members also learn to communicate and work with new people, which is a skill you need in any industry. A lot of the leadership skills we try to build are not only specific to agriculture,” Heyer said.
Originally, Heyer had not planned on being involved with agriculture in high school, even though he grew up on an ag operation. “I know that ag class isn’t the most appealing, and I was one of those kids who wasn’t going to be in ag classes, but my dad had a different opinion. Now I am a state officer, and I am majoring in agricultural education,” he said.
The purpose of FFA Week is to get people involved with the local FFA chapter. “It’s a time when people in the community can reflect upon their experiences in FFA, their children’s or grandchildren’s activities in it. It helps to develop pride, and that’s very important,” said Tim Arkfeld, adviser at the Syracuse-Dunbar-Avoca chapter.
The Stuart FFA chapter was very involved during FFA Week. “We do several activities during National FFA Week some of our activities include trivia challenges on our local radio station and in our daily announcements, commodity counting games, coloring contests, Pennies for Patients fundraiser, hidden logos throughout the school, member appreciation breakfast, teacher appreciation gifts, and a visit by a State FFA Officer,” said adviser Monty Larsen.
He continued, “Some of the most rewarding parts of the FFA Week activities include visiting the KBRX Radio Station in O’Neill with our older members for an on-air interview and the State FFA Officer visits, as both of these activities show people outside of our community how important FFA and the associated opportunities are to them as members.”
The Stuart FFA Chapter was charted in 1999, and has 33 high school members, which is 70 percent of the student body. “The Stuart FFA Chapter also takes a great deal of pride in promoting the Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) programs of their members through proficiency application awards and State FFA Degree recipients,” said Larsen.
Over 60 members from Stuart have received their State FFA Degree, with nearly 30 of those members going forward and receiving their American FFA Degree.
The Valentine FFA chapter was also very involved in FFA week. The chapter has 58 members, and was established over 50 years ago. The freshman did public service announcements, they had a teacher appreciation day, a t-shirt and button day, a corn bag toss game, an earth day and an official dress day.
“FFA Week is important to bring awareness of all the different subject areas and course content that we teach. It creates a public awareness of what we do,” said Greg Nollette, Valentine FFA adviser.
He believes FFA is important to the students long-term. “FFA exposes students to a lot of career options, and gives them positive leadership experience that they can use in their future careers,” he said.
Formerly known as Future Farmers of America, the National FFA Organization provides agricultural education to more than 523,000 student members in grades seven through 12 who belong to one of 7,487 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The organization operates under a federal charter granted by the 81st U.S. Congress and it is an integral part of public instruction in agriculture.
Dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education, the National FFA Organization’s motto gives members 12 short words to live by as they experience the opportunities in the organization – Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.
FFA Week is very important to the Stuart chapter. “The Stuart FFA Chapter has a short, but very proud, tradition of promoting citizenship through community service, providing leadership opportunities to all of its members, and for encouraging career awareness and readiness through competitions and contests. The Stuart FFA Chapter is also very fortunate to have such a supportive community and parents,” said Larsen.