The Beardstown FFA Chapter has experienced an active year with many changes and exciting new opportunities.
BHS’s FFA president, secretary, and another member attended the three-day State FFA convention in Springfield over the summer. Conference speakers delivered motivational speeches on leadership and the FFA experience.
The chapter welcomed Sam Frazier as the new FFA advisor and Ag teacher this fall. Mr. Frazier teaches dual-credit agriculture classes at BHS on behalf of Lincoln Land Community College.
The BHS chapter kicked off the new school year with an Officer Leadership Training workshop in Farmington. The students learned how to strengthen their leadership skills and participated in team-building exercises. They also networked with representatives from other FFA chapters in west-central Illinois. Later in the fall, state FFA officers visited the BHS FFA Chapter.
Before the greenhouse could be used this year, the chapter had to repair the plumbing. Maintenance was also performed on the swamp cooler, which cools and humidifies the greenhouse. Ag students used the greenhouse for individual agriculture and plant science projects this fall, growing plants from seed.
In October, nine FFA members competed in a Soils Career Development Event (CDE) in Havana. The purpose of a CDE is to help FFA members explore careers and empower them with critical thinking, communication, and job skills for their future. CDEs teach job skills ranging from communications to mechanics, in individual and team-based competitions. Before each CDE, BHS FFA members learned the subject matter and hand-on skills which they used when competing in events.
In early November, the chapter hosted a Fish Pong game at the Helping Hunter Halloween Bash fundraiser in the BHS Commons. Over 60 fish were given away as prizes and FFA members learned valuable lessons in aquaculture.
Eight members traveled to Hillsboro to participate in an invitational sporting clays event and agricultural scholarship competition. One BHS member finished as the runner-up after competing in two rounds of interviews, an essay, and an evaluation of qualifications.
In early December, the chapter attended the Farm Bureau Young Leaders Acquaintance Day. The FFA members toured Consolidated Grain and Barge Company in Naples, learned about its operations, and met Farm Bureau members.
Members installed an aquaponics system in the greenhouse this winter to give students hands-on experience with this technology. Aquaponics is a cross between hydroponics (growing plants without soil) and aquaculture (raising fish). The fish waste provides nutrients to grow plants hydroponically, and the plants purify the water for the fish.
Other upcoming CDE’s in which the chapter plans to compete include: poultry, livestock, and agricultural mechanics. The girls will also be attending the upcoming Women Changing the Face of Agriculture conference.
The Beardstown chapter will be hosting a “barnyard” event for local elementary students later this spring. Students will be able to see, pet, and learn about a variety of farm animals brought into the BHS Ag shop by FFA members.
The capstone of the FFA year is the annual FFA banquet, which the club will host in the BHS commons later this spring. The banquet is funded by chapter sales of fruit and poinsettias. At the banquet, current members will be recognized for achievement and new officers for the upcoming school year will be installed.
The Beardstown FFA Chapter is very thankful for all the community support received in the last year and the opportunities this organization provides.