Central Columbia FFA looks forward to resuming in-person community outreach | The latest news on agricultural education institutions
The in-person school resumes in the Central Columbia School District in Bloomsburg, central Pennsylvania, and its FFA chapter is eager to return to face-to-face community outreach. The FFA has already planned at least six in-person events this fall.
The FFA is the largest student organization in the country with more than 700,000 members – more than Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and 4-Hs, according to Douglas Brown, the school’s FFA advisor and Central Columbia professor of agriculture.
As Brown enters his 31st year in the roles, he returns in 1991, when he was working with just 20 agriculture students at school. Fast forward three decades, and Central Columbia’s agricultural program now welcomes nearly 175 students per year, through the Agri-Sciences Career Pathways program and the Central Columbia FFA organization.
As part of the high school’s Career Pathways program, Central Columbia students can choose a four-year concentration in Agroscience, Science, and Health, currently the largest Pathway in the district, with some students transferring from other school districts. to get there. to offers based on agriculture.
When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in March 2020, activities became limited as closures took place to prevent the spread of infections. However, Brown said, the school’s agricultural program quickly turned to virtual programs and online educational offerings. The workshops were delivered via YouTube by the professors and used by the students participating in the SAE (Supervised Ag Experience).
One thing did not end, however: fundraising.
â€œThe fundraising activities really never stopped. In fact, we’ve had some of the best fundraisers ever, â€said Brown.
The local FFA continued to market maple products, citrus fruits through the Florida Fruit Association, as well as sales of jerky and strawberries later in the winter.
While COVID-19 posed many challenges for school districts like Central Columbia, there was also a â€œhalf-full glassâ€ component, according to Brown.
â€œWhen the pandemic led to empty shelves, consumers began to recognize the importance of agriculture and a food basin (the geographic region that produces food for a particular population),â€ he said. he declares. â€œFood insecurity was now a priority. Meat, paper products, poultry shortages and soaring prices have helped consumers understand the importance of local agriculture.
New vaccines to slow the spread of COVID-19 have allowed businesses across the country to reopen more fully in late spring and early summer, and some in-person activities to resume. In Central Columbia, local in-person farming opportunities started to pick up again this summer. In early August, Central Columbia FFA member and officer Katie Dingle participated in a cattle show at the Montour Delong Fair, which was held August 9-14 in Washingtonville, Pennsylvania.
According to Brown, â€œKatie took part in the steer, lamb and goat shows where she showed her talent in staging cattle. She placed second showing her ox, first with her lamb and first with her goat.
Dingle has also shown regionally and nationally as far away as Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Fall activities and beyond
There are a number of occasions that Central Columbia FFA students will interact with community members this fall.
For example, the FFA section of Central Columbia is looking forward to returning to the Bloomsburg Fair in late September, where they will be holding a booth on the importance of regenerative agriculture and soil health. Students will explain how soil health today affects sustainable production many years into the future.
The FFA chapter will also participate in the Agricultural Meeting Day on Saturday 9 October at the Rohrbach agricultural market, which aims to raise awareness and educate the community.
Students will also be at the Berwick Farmers Market on Saturday October 30 for an Agriculture Awareness Day, to talk about the importance of buying food from local producers and the inner workings of how local farms support communities.
Brown is hoping students can participate meaningfully in the Pennsylvania Farm Show in January, noting that many ninth and tenth graders have never experienced it due to COVID-19 closures. Going to the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg is a special excursion for everyone, as seniors receive the FFA’s highest honor – the Keystone Diploma – at the event.
Brown was pleased to announce that the school section had one student participating in the national FFA Creed Speaking competition this year. The president of the FFA section, Rebecca Lehman, first participated at all levels – local, regional and state – by memorizing the five paragraphs that make up the credo written by EM Tiffany and adopted at the third national convention of the FFA in the 1930s.
The first rounds of competition took place virtually on Friday August 27th. Lehman recited the FFA credo from memory to the judges who assessed it, using criteria such as stage presence, verbal and non-verbal communication, knowledge of the agricultural industry and response to questions. linked to the creed. Although Lehman did well, she was not one of the top 16 contenders to advance to the final round. However, she will be recognized for her efforts during a live and virtual award recognition program on Wednesday, October 27, in conjunction with the FFA National Convention in Indianapolis.
And, in spring 2022, the chapter will participate in Rural Community Day on March 5. This security-focused event has been canceled two years in a row due to the pandemic. The event educates the public on many aspects of agricultural safety including tractor safety, animal safety and many more.