Meeker FFA’s first semester goes well; year has been busy already

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MEEKER I First semester for the Meeker FFA Chapter really went off with a bang as we upgraded, renovated and decorated. We’ve made the whole place feel more like home and have been working harder than ever before.

We are very excited to share with the community our accomplishments and improvements in a very successful first half of the year.
The first thing we did that put a lot of pride in our hearts was remodeling the downstairs FFA room. The entire chapter worked extremely hard. We painted the room with the classic FFA colors of corn gold and national blue. We also re-organized all of the previously won awards. We hung them up on the wall and found that our successes date back to 1953. This really proved to us that this chapter has done a lot to earn what we’ve accomplished.
Shortly after this occurred, the introduction to agriculture class got its feet wet and went to the BIG conference, which is short for Becoming Involved in Greenhand. The freshmen had a blast learning about the FFA opportunities available and what they can do to contribute to the chapter.
In October, to share with the community what we have accomplished with redesigning the room, the chapter hosted an open house. We only pulled this off because of a gracious donation of hamburger from the local Cattlewomen Association. We hosted approximately 170 guests including staff members, FFA members, parents and several people from the community.
At the Sheepdog trials, we as FFA members love to educate younger people about agriculture. We did this by providing a petting farm that showcased many animals including Strawberry the cow and a miniature donkey foal named Izzy. Also included were chickens, rabbits, fainting goats, sheep, donkeys, cats, a horse, mules and a puppy. We had several members work very hard for three days straight, they gave tours of the petting farm and taught everyone who decided to stop by the details about each animal. We also had roping exhibitions provided by Lane Anderson to entertain elementary school kids while the rest of their groups worked their way through the farm. We received excellent feedback from several people who visited and really enjoyed their experience.
We still hadn’t quite gotten our fill of making things new, so we thought about what else we could do and picked up on three fantastic ideas that have carried us a long way. As a chapter we began to clean and organize the Greenhouse, the shop and the empty lot next to our classroom.
The easiest job was cleaning up shop. The ag mechanics kids polished and shined the shop until the floors became spotless.
Currently, these kids are welding and making beautiful objects for the Meeker Education Foundation and Afterbirth Ball auctions as well as items to market on the chapter’s new FFA Facebook Page. Meeker FFA Chapter is earning funds to put back into the welding supply budget. The chapter would like to thank Kent Neilsen, Jarrett Waldref, Mark Scritchfield and Wade Bradfield for all of their help in the shop department.
The plant science class cleaned the greenhouse; as of now a brand new heater has been put in the greenhouse, thanks to a grant written last year. Hopefully, sometime soon we can begin to grow our own plants all winter long. This new opportunity will help us have great success in hands-on learning. We are planning to get more fantastic help later on in the year from Diane Dunham, Katie Day and Ellen Riechert.
Even though this took a lot of work and dedication, the biggest project was yet to come. When it was still warm and sunny here in Meeker, we began to renovate the lot that is directly outside of our classroom. At the start of the year, we took the used-up lot and planted a plethora of trees and bushes to spruce up the place. We added new soil, installed sprinklers, put grass seed in and made it feel new again.
The lot had various uses in the past—it was a garden and at one point a crop-planting area, but has not been for some time. A mechanical clusters class a few years ago had raised funds for the landscaping of the lot through community donations. The ag department was able to use these funds to do some hands-on learning about plumbing sprinkler systems, grading lots, planting trees and grass as well as landscape design.
With the help of Gary Moyer, Jeff Squire, Stephanie Kobald, Mike Wille, Les Woodward, Zach Clatterbaugh and Randy Ridgeway, we finished as much as we could before the snow fell. When the snow melts, we plan to include the high school art department and industrial arts as well as all of the agriculture classes in putting the finishing touches on the lot.
We plan to have an area for an outdoor classroom, orchard area for horticulture classes, a sitting area and a picnic table area for lunch. This project has been especially enjoyable as a result of collaboration with multiple high school departments and community volunteers.
The chapter is hoping to raise funds and find some donations to finish the spring phase of the project. This phase would involve building picnic tables, benches and bleachers for the outdoor classroom with the industrial arts and ag mechanics classes. Decorative walkways and a mural would be created with the art department and all the ag classes. Flower beds, bushes and shrubs would be planted the horticulture class. We would like to give a huge thank you to Bill Ekstrom, Rodney Dunham and Vanessa Trout for helping in more than one aspect of our projects.
On a more competitive side of things, the freshmen competed in the chapter creed contest and officially became FFA members at heart. We took Briar Meszaros and Ellie Anderson to the District Leadership Conference in North Park in December. They brought home a gold medal and a silver medal, which really represented the chapter freshmen well. Along with the two girls, we also brought along a prepared speaker, Macy Collins, and two extemporaneous speakers, Ty Dunham and Madi Shults. They competed very successfully and we ended up with three golds in the speaking category. Shults is set to represent our district and chapter at state convention in extemporaneous speaking. We as a whole chapter are looking forward to spring competitions so we can show our newly learned skills in different areas.
Right now, we are preparing to help with events like the Afterbirth Ball, host the CarQuest customer appreciation barbecue, and Donkey Basketball on April 20.
The ag communication class is currently working on highlighting local agricultural businesses and working on the Meeker FFA Chapter Facebook Page while also building a chapter website.
We are very excited to see what the new semester brings to our chapter! Once again we would like to thank all of our community volunteers that have helped us throughout the year.