Despite some rainy weather, Adairsville High School’s FFA chapter took part in several events during the week that celebrates the agricultural industry each year.
During National FFA Week Feb. 24-29, the 125-member chapter had a different activity planned for each day that promoted leadership skills, strengthened agriculture and helped build communities.
“I think things went well,” agricultural education teacher and FFA adviser Adam Joslin said. “Each one is designed to do one of the following: make them a better person/leader, build communities or show what it is to be a part of a community and promote agriculture. I believe all of these met that goal.”
Throughout the week, members submitted school announcements about the chapter, activities that it does and interesting careers in the industry to “try to recruit new students and to bring awareness about current agricultural issues,” Joslin said.
On Tuesday – and again on March 2 – a group of “big friends” visited Adairsville Elementary School to help their “little friends” in the pre-K and first-grade classes learn how to transplant small plants into other pots and how to plant seeds that they could watch germinate and grow, Joslin said.
“Overall, this was probably the most favorite activity that everyone got to be a part of,” Joslin said. “Seeing the excitement that the little friends had was contagious, and everyone, young and old, enjoyed working together. The students got to take the plants home to water and take care of them.”
Thursday’s activity involved members visiting Spring Bank, a county-owned park in Kingston that’s home to the largest white oak tree in Georgia, to continue the work they started last year with the Bartow County Parks and Recreation Department – helping to maintain and enhance a tree identification trail.
“That got put on hold, but this year, we started it back and visited the park with our county extension agent, Paul Pugliese, and worked on some tree identification skills,” Joslin said. “We did take notes of what is currently there and brainstormed about possible enhancements we would like to make to the trail. We also enjoyed the expertise of Mr. Pugliese and his instruction.”
For Friday’s event, members toured the Yanmar EVO Center in Cherokee County, where they visited a museum and saw a “neat example of a diesel engine cut-away to help understand how they work,” Joslin said.
“We got to see some of the innovation center, how different technology is being used in agriculture,” he said. “We also got to tour the training rooms where the technicians come to learn about the equipment. Our students learned that all occupations from sales to technicians come to learn and work on the equipment so they can have the knowledge they need to best do their job. It was a true example of Learning to Do, Doing to Learn.”
The week ended with four students attending the Greenhand Conference for freshmen and three students attending the Success Conference for sophomores, juniors and seniors Friday and Saturday at the FFA Camp in Covington to “help continue to build leaders in our chapter,” Joslin said.
“Students that attended the Greenhand Conference learned about individual leadership and how to plug into FFA and make the most of the opportunities it provides,” he said. “The students that participated in the Success Conference learned about the leadership potential in everyone and how to continue growing in leadership. These students really got a lot out of it and, I think, will really do a good job leading our FFA chapter next year.”
Senior Chris Holder and junior Michael Stewart were recognized for earning their proficiency awards in landscape management and swine production, respectively, and Holder also met the requirements for his State FFA Degree this year.
“The proficiency and State FFA Degree are both based on a student's project called a supervised agricultural experience,” Joslin said. “Students should learn a few of the basics in our class then practice these skills in real-life experiences in FFA contests then the student should develop an SAE based on their interests and possibly what they would like to do as a career or at least a hobby.”
A proficiency award shows the student has developed specialized skills that can be applied toward their future career while the state degree indicates the student has done an exceptional job on his/her SAE and has met all the requirements, including at least 300 hours in their SAE outside the classroom activities, community service and participation in many FFA activities.
Joslin said he was “really proud of Chris for working hard and putting in the effort” to get both awards.
“A student that receives this really goes above and beyond what is required in the classroom, and it takes a really motivated student to reach this achievement,” he said. “Chris is a senior, and I am proud of what he has accomplished, but I will really miss him in the program next year. He is really a student that will do anything you ask to the best of his ability with a good attitude.”
Holder, 18, said he wanted to earn his proficiency award because he’s “considering trying to grow this [lawn care] business.”
“I am thinking about trying to maintain lawns as my career,” he said.
Getting his state degree was a “cool accomplishment” that took him about 2½ years of growing his lawn care business and being involved in FFA to achieve.
“To me, it shows that I can accomplish more than what I thought I could do,” he said. “It proves that I am willing to work hard and do what it takes to complete the work I need to do.”
Joslin called Stewart, the chapter president, “another special student.”
“He is another student that will go above and beyond and unselfishly thinks of what is best for our chapter instead of what is comfortable for him,” he said, noting the 16-year-old has “really done a good job leading” the group this year.
Earning his proficiency award is “just one of the many experiences” Stewart has had in FFA, Joslin said.
“He also is one of our most experienced students in contests, learning about land judging, public speaking, job interview skills, meat evaluation, wildlife and forestry,” he said. “He is thinking about pursuing a career in teaching agriculture or possibly a fish biologist with DNR [Department of Natural Resources]. Whatever he does, I think he will be successful because of his work ethic.”
Stewart was thrilled about receiving his proficiency award.
“First of all, I was very proud of myself for sticking with it for so long,” he said. “Second, I think it truly has helped with responsibility and managing my daily life. It can be so hectic with school, friends and hobbies.”
He said he earned the award to “better myself and make progress towards earning degrees through my FFA chapter.”
“I wanted the awards and degrees so I may put them on my college application,” he said.
Joslin said he had a variety of reasons for the choosing the activities he picked for FFA Week.
“We try to find activities that are fun to do but also meet the goals,” he said. “Spring Bank was good because it mixes walking/hiking/exercise while gaining knowledge about tree ID. We got to see what it is like helping schools in a community. I feel Yanmar is also a good example of a company that gives back to the community with all the programs they put on at the Yanmar EVO Center.”
The group also tried to plan a fishing trip to “build memories and friendships,” but the lake was flooded due to the heavy rains the area received in February, Joslin said. It will be rescheduled if the coronavirus school closure ends before the last day of the school year.
Another event that’s dependent on schools reopening is the chapter’s annual spring plant sale.
“I think we may have to get creative and possibly set it up online where people can set up orders and pay online and then just have a drive-through where we load the plants in their car,” Joslin said. “Some other programs have done this or partnered with another business, and they have helped sell some of their plants from local businesses.”