GRANADA – The FFA Chapter of Granada Huntley East Chain (GHEC) is looking for people interested in joining its alumni association. The FFA chapter of GHEC is extremely new. Its agriculture department was first formed in 2020, but has since become a staple of the district’s high school curriculum.
Star Nelson was the school’s first agriculture teacher and taught its first agricultural classes.
“It was very difficult because I did it during COVID. It took many hours to complete the paperwork and approve the program, but getting the kids to come was not that difficult. The kids really wanted to be there and the community really wanted the kids to be there. We really have no problem with community support. Everyone is supportive, which is fantastic,” said Nelson.
Since the establishment of the Department of Agriculture, changes have been made to the curriculum to emphasize agricultural education and make entry to FFA more accessible. GHEC students must now complete an introductory agriculture course as well as an agricultural business course to graduate. Once students have been enrolled in an agriculture course, they become eligible for FFA membership and programming. Currently, there are approximately 40 FFA members at GHEC, but this number will increase over the next few years as upper class students are replaced by students using the new requirements.
The FFA chapter of GHEC remains relatively new, so far it has organized a variety of student programs as well as outreach and community service activities.
In the old days
While FFA specializes in agricultural education, instructors point out that its programming can benefit students interested in a variety of different fields.
“There are two different categories; there are career development events such as (small animal identification and livestock appraisal) and then there are leadership development events which would be agricultural communication, agricultural business, etc. said Nelson.
Nelson provided an example of an FFA program that can benefit students entering industries other than agriculture.
“Right now we have a student who has no interest in animals and livestock, so she entered the farm business management competition. She organized the community breakfast and she led an (educational program). So really you don’t have to be involved in what the world thinks is farming to be part of the FFA, it can be literally anything,” said Nelson.
District Industrial Technology courses are now also provided by Nelson and are now under the Department of Agriculture. The district also hired McKenzie Wagelie as a second agriculture teacher. In addition to teaching agriculture, Wagelie also spearheaded the creation of the alumni organization.
“I think at FFA there are countless opportunities for children to get involved, whether they want to enter a competition or help out with the community service part. I know from my experiences at FFA that there are has so many opportunities to grow as an individual,” Wagelie said.
Since the FFA chapter was created very recently, individuals do not need to be a chapter or GHEC alumnus to join the alumni organization.
“It can be people from Fairmont, business people, parents of students and real alumni too”, said Nelson.
Members of the alumni association would participate in fundraising efforts, help connect the chapter to resources, and assist the chapter and the Department of Agriculture in its operations. The chapter hopes to use the resources of the alumni association to expand the reach of FFA operations and build a scholarship fund for high school students going into agriculture.
“One thing I always preach to my kids is that you don’t have to be involved in farming. You just need to have an open mind and I think that applies to the (elders committee) as well. We just need people to help support our students, that’s why we’re all here. We are not here because of FFA, we are here for the children”, Nelson said.