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FFA offers expanded opportunities for students
February 20, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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Photo by Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen - Officers from the Scottsbluff High School FFA chapter include, from left, historian Emily Garl, treasurer Logan Woodward and parliamentarian Richard Klemm.

Chartered in 1949, the Scottsbluff High School chapter of FFA has gone through a lot of change over the years and now offers learning opportunities for a wider audience of students.

Originally named Future Farmers of America, the organization now goes by FFA, although the group kept its logo design.

“Modern FFA has adapted well to changes in both technology within the industry and the areas of industry,” said chapter treasurer Logan Woodward. “A lot of contest judging has been updated and also ag mechanics. And FFA is bringing in a lot of sponsors from local businesses. We want to make sure there’s always something that can suit anyone coming into FFA, even if they’re not a farm or ranch kid.”

Chapter historian Emily Garl said membership has been growing among young people who don’t have direct experience in farming or ranching. “We keep the FFA name, but it’s doesn’t stand for Future Farmers of American anymore,” she said.

Chapter parliamentarian Richard Klemm said he’s one of the members without ag experience. “I’m really focused on the contests this year,” he said. “I’m interested in plant science.”

In college, Klemm plans to study biotechnology and developing plant products for food science.

Garl said she’s interested in parliamentary procedure and food science. She’s also done land judging in the past and is now involved in livestock judging. “We do a lot of leadership training with sessions on the state and national level,” she said. “I get involved in the contests that deal with livestock because I want to go into bovine management. Those give me the skills I need for future learning.”

Woodward said he’s done range judging, parliamentary procedure, floriculture and nursery and landscape. His personal field of interest is mechanical engineering, so working with a team of other students has been helpful. “Most engineering is a team effort,” he said. “Plus the hands-on experience helps build my skills.”

Improved leadership and organizational skills are a common factor that chapter members have experienced.

Klemm said being in the Scottsbluff FFA has also helped his organizational skills. “I used to not have much of a schedule. But now I need to have to keep to a schedule to get all the work done, especially with long term projects. It’s not good to put things off.”

Garl said she’s also learned time management from being a member, plus becoming a better communicator. “I’m pretty bad at communication skills, but being involved has made it a lot easier for me.”

Woodward said involvement in the chapter, as well as other extracurricular activities, has also helped his organizational, communication and leadership skills.

They all gave a resounding “Yes” when asked if FFA membership has been a good experience that will serve them well in the future.

Chapter sponsor Bob Padula has been with the program for the past 32 years. “FFA has a lot of applications when it comes to life skills, whether it’s in the classroom, the mechanics lab or the greenhouse,” he said. “We try to make sure whatever we’re doing will transfer on to something they can use later in life and become more productive citizens.”

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