Shelby County Farm Bureau partners with FFA Chapters across the county each year. Conducting food drives, promoting agricultural awareness and furthering agriculture education efforts. So, when the Anna FFA Chapter was awarded top in the nation, the Farm Bureau thought it would be a great idea to share the Chapter’s success with their very own United States Congressman, Jim Jordan.
Jordan, a fiscal conservative raised in Champaign County, was more than willing to learn how the Anna FFA and the agricultural industry impact a community within his district.
During his visit on March 11, Jordan learned that there are 144 students enrolled in the Agricultural Education (Ag. Ed.) courses at the Anna High School, with 100% of those students as dues paying members of the FFA Chapter. Nine classes are taught each day by two agricultural teachers, Sarah Heilers and Tim Zimpfer. Class offerings include; Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Plant and Horticultural Science, Animal Science and Technology, Agribusiness Management, Communications and Leadership, and Structural Engineering.
The program at Anna is also strengthened by two adult support and education organizations, The Anna Young Farmers and the Anna FFA Alumni. Support from these adult organizations provides additional opportunities to students by awarding annual scholarships to seniors. In 2013, $9,500 in scholarship money was awarded to students in the program.
Through agricultural education, students are provided opportunities for leadership development, personal growth and career success. Agricultural education instruction is delivered through three major components; classroom/laboratory instruction, supervised agricultural experience programs (SAE), and participation in the FFA organization.
During his one-hour visit to Anna, Jordan discovered that 100% of the 2013 Anna FFA graduates are currently enrolled in post-secondary education, 64% of which are furthering their education in ag-related fields such as Agricultural Engineering, Welding Technology, Food Science, Agribusiness and Applied Economics or Landscape Horticulture. These students are pursuing advanced technical training and upper level degrees at institutions across the state.
Ag. Ed. Teacher, Sarah Heilers, shared with Jordan that 100% of students in the program participate in an experiential learning project (SAE) to gain career readiness skills.
“Our students have gained skills necessary to start their own small businesses or gain employment at local businesses in the area,” explained Heilers prior to students sharing their personal SAE projects with Jordan.
Anna FFA treasurer, Mary Buehler presented her SAE project, “Buehler Sweet Corn” to Jordan. Her improvements in marketing strategies as well as trial and error troubleshooting were lessons Buehler described in helping her to profit $7,000 per year with her project.
Shaun Wenrick, who started LNS Landscaping, LLC with his brother and former FFA member explained that learning how to repair equipment on his own helped to reduce expenses and has enabled him to double the profits of his two-year business. Jordan revealed his own childhood stories of mowing lawns with his brother and the work ethic he learned from the experience with Wenrick and the group.
The economic impact of the SAE projects in the Anna Ag. Ed. Program in 2013 is quite impressive. With a gross income of $241,155 this equates to a total community economic impact of $472,664 to the local economy.
Jordan was also introduced to the rest of the facility including the 3,500 square foot shop that houses welding booths, woodworking areas, and horticultural and tool storage. Ag. Ed. Teacher, Tim Zimpfer explained the real-world experiences and opportunities that students are able to capture in the shop-related courses. Incorporating up-to-date industry tools and enabling students to embrace using their hands were topics discussed.
Anna FFA president, Dominic Becker, led the discussion about the FFA Chapter. He described the leadership development, personal growth and career success opportunities that he and fellow members have experienced in the program. His personal story includes public speaking, job interview contests and leadership roles in officer positions that have propelled him to a path to Yale University in the coming fall.
As a whole, Ag. Ed. Students achieved higher than non Ag. Ed. students on the ACT, averaging a composite score of 24 compared to district average of 22.9 and state average of 21.8. Ag. Ed. Students had a higher passage rate than non ag. students on the OGT, achieving 100% passage, compared to the district passing rate of 98.8% and the state passage rate of 83.6%. Ag. Ed. Students scored in the accelerated or advanced category in 87% of tests taken.
Service to the community is another point of pride for this program. In 2013 students put in over 5,000 hours of community service through food bank drives, donation centers, ag. literacy programs and much more. They have also donated over $3,700 to charity already in 2014.
Shelby County Farm Bureau is proud to have the Anna FFA program as part of their community. The Food and Agriculture sectors are the largest industries in the state of Ohio, contributing 11.7% of the state’s total economic output and employing 1 in 7 Ohioans. Shelby County is rich in agricultural industries and three rise to the top in value of sales; grain and oilseed production, swine production and dairy production.
“The Farm Bureau believes that by empowering the next generation of agriculturalists we are insuring a more prosperous future,” explains Jill Smith, Organization Director for Ohio Farm Bureau serving Shelby County. “Whether that is through leadership development or through ag skills, FFA helps young people move forward, which is why our organization is such a supporter of what they do.”
By: Raci Zimpfer, Communications Chair