Salute to FFA

Wednesday, February 22, 2017
“Amplify” was the 2016 National FFA theme and 102 members of the West Liberty FFA were able to amplify their leadership and success while making an impact on our community.

Membership of the program in 2016 was made up of 69 females and 33 males, 30 of them living on farms. 73 were Caucasian, 23 Latino and 6 of other ethnicity.

Leadership

Developing leadership skills was an area all members of our chapter had a great deal of success.

National FFA sponsored conferences are a great start in developing leaders as 4 members attended the 212 Conference, 15 for the Discovery Conference, and 30 for the state greenhand camp.

We also took 33 members, our largest group ever, to the national convention in Indianapolis, Indiana.

“Lead by Example” is a major activity focusing on career development events. 51 members were involved in either skill or leadership based events at multiple levels.

48 members in 12 events advanced to state level competition with all events earning gold ratings.

At the State Conference, 4 events earned state championships; Ag Impact, Ag CSI, Job Interview, and Ag Issues and Perceptions. Floriculture, Job Interview, and Ag Issues and Perceptions all placed in the top 8 at nationals this year.

Healthy Lifestyles

Providing opportunities for our members to develop healthy lifestyles was one of many emphasized in 2016.

Our annual back-to-school picnic was a big hit for over 30 members who enjoyed great food and competed in corn-hole tournaments. It’s time to go racing, as our chapter officers on their retreat attended the Iowa Corn Indy 300.

During National Convention members took some time off and got front row seats to the Cole Swindell and Chris Young concert.

“Broomball” was a great opportunity to hit the ice at the Coralville mall as 38 members met their individual fruit sales goal. During National FFA Week our chapter carried out several activities as well.

Career Success

Career development, growth, and success have many facets, and our Chapter made it possible for members to experience this. Aside from career development events, 48 members had SAE projects in the areas livestock production, ag mechanics and job placement, earning an average profit of about $780.

18 members exhibited their livestock at the county fair and 5 took projects to the Iowa State Fair. 

“Pork Cooperative” was a unique chapter sponsored activity in which 5 members selected, cared for, and exhibited swine at the county fair.

27 members got their cameras out and entered photography at either the county or state fair. “Planting the Seeds of our Future” involved 43 Chapter members operating our 30x60 foot greenhouse in order to conduct plant sales throughout the year.

24 Discovery, 17 greenhand and 13 chapter degrees were presented at our annual Parent-Member Banquet.

Additionally, many members toured agricultural businesses and projects through our “SAE Road Show” to be exposed to various careers in the industry.

Scholarship

Preparing young people for the future is what FFA is all about. Scholarship opportunities through the FFA, is one way to help members take the next step in their lives.

Our Chapter awarded $2800 in college scholarships to 9 senior members at our high school’s Senior Awards Night.

Our chapter awarded 50 Academic Awards at our chapter banquet to members who had maintained a 3.0 GPA.

This year we also started our first FFA booster club, and have raised an additional $1,500 in funds for scholarships sponsored by community organizations.

Members without an FFA jacket participated in the “Jackets of Pride Campaign” in which Hills Bank partnered with the chapter sponsoring 28 new FFA jackets as members conducted a short meet and greet with a local banker.

Personal Growth

Personal growth as stated in the FFA mission is something our members strive for.

“Project Garden Box”, a new activity, involved 8 members growing vegetables in a container gardening system, while 3 other members managed the farm to business gardens selling over $300 worth of produce at the local farmers market.

5 members spent 10 days at the State Fair serving as grandstand ushers, including 1 member who restored a tractor.

Members also developed communication and teamwork during our annual state FFA officer leadership visit as 56 participated. 2 members placed in the top 3 in the state for their proficiency awards.

7 members earned their Iowa FFA Degrees through their SAE programs.

1 member was also a state rising star finalist. We also recognized members that went above and beyond by awarding Star Discovery, Greenhand, and Chapter Members, and finally Outstanding Service Awards.

Recruitment

We try to recruit students in our high school into the FFA and focus on retaining them through various chapter activities.

”Exploring Agriculture and FFA” is where all 8th graders take a six-week introductory agriculture course. Don’t forget about our experience the action CDE team that informs prospective students about courses, FFA, and SAE opportunities.

We involved 22 8th grade students last year in CDE’s; Ag Impact, Ag CSI, and ETA audience members.

This year the “Fall Ag Expo”, a new activity, was exclusively held for 8th grade members to learn about FFA, receive their discovery degree, inform parents about upcoming activities, and heard from a state FFA officer.

Financial

Financial standing through savings and investments, as mentioned in official opening ceremonies, stresses the need to raise funds for activities.

Over 35 members helped with “Operation Concession Stand” as football and track seasons earned a profit of $5725. A box of oranges or 2 is always popular in our community as 95 members sold over $24,000 in our annual fruit sale project.

Our greenhouse also had a successful year selling over $13,000 worth of plants both annuals in the spring and poinsettias in the fall.

Our annual oil and battery recycling project netted the chapter treasury $235. Financial benefit even extended beyond the chapter as 10 members helped raise money selling model tractors at the state fair for the Iowa FFA Foundation.

Public Relations

Promoting a positive image and keeping everyone informed is an important goal.

Our chapter utilizes various forms of communication; the local West Liberty Index, the Cometary, the school’s digital sign-board, as well as facebook, twitter, and snapchat.

Our local paper publishes a 2 page article during National FFA Week highlighting our chapter’s activities and accomplishments, as well as other articles during the year.

We utilize the West Liberty Chamber of Commerce to inform local businesses of upcoming activities and fundraisers.

During homecoming week, 26 members built a float for the parade and decorated 2 business windows. Over 240 members and guests of our community attended our Parent-Member Banquet.  

Cooperation

Cooperating and working with others is key to success in any venture. In the month of June, our chapter officers attended the Southeast Chapter Officer Leadership Training and developed our program of activities at their officer retreat.

Monthly officer and chapter meetings along with committee meetings helped plan upcoming activities.

“STEM Explorer Camp” is an activity where members partnered up with Iowa State Extension and Americorp to conduct several STEM camps throughout the summer

In the spring, committee members worked together by inviting over 100 local business leaders and community supporters for the “CDE Showcase Night” to observe all members competing in CDE events and provide feedback.

Support Group

School and community support is an essential of a successful chapter. Our alumni support group, consists of over 35 members, assisted in many ways: transportation to conferences, prepared members for contests and award programs, and even assisted with fundraisers.

Jan’s Flower Yard employees helped train members on our national floriculture team.

Fred’s Feed and Supply worked closely with us in the chapter swine project, selling extra plant inventory, as well as various other needs.

We recognized all 35 adults at our Parent-Member Banquet with Certificates of Appreciation. We also presented an Honorary Chapter Degree to an outstanding supporter of our Chapter.

This year at the county fair, the “Friends of the West Liberty FFA” purchased a live auction FFA emblem carving for the ag facility in the amount of $6,000.

Economic Development

West Liberty is a growing community and the West Liberty FFA Chapter is actively involved. “Flowers in a Basket”, is where our members helped with the management of 20 large hanging petunia baskets that were hung throughout town.

Most of the feed and livestock supplies used by our members for their SAE projects was purchased from local businesses.

For the chapter swine project over $3,200 was spent locally. 8 members have entrepreneurship SAE programs mostly in areas of livestock production.

6 members spent 4 hours assisting with the revitalization of the historic train depot fencing area.

Environmental

Taking care of our environment becomes more important all the time.  “Save the Planet: Recycle your Oil and Batteries was an activity last summer where our members helped collect and recycle 950 gallons of waste engine oil and 1140 pounds of engine batteries.

West Liberty FFA received a $2,500 living to serve grant for environmental projects to teach soil and water conservation and implement a rain barrel system for the raised garden beds.

38 members helped the DNR and the city of West Liberty plant 30 trees around town. 1 member worked with community members to help the home environment by designing a mobile Chemical-Look-A-Like display to teach students about chemicals that look like common food products.

Human Resources

“Living to Serve” is the last line of the FFA Motto. In 2016 our Chapter tried to reach out and help others in our community. Our chapter membership this year participated and raised over $500 for the meal packaging event “Kids Against Hunger”.

Members purchased and wrapped $350 worth of gifts for 18 children as part of our community’s “Star Tree Project”.  We also donated 8 boxes of fruit to our local food pantry. 15 poinsettias were donated to the West Liberty Nursing Home. And for the 37th year our members prepared breakfast for the high school staff. 

Citizenship

Developing young people into good citizens is important to every community.

15 members spent 3 hours preparing 76 lamb and goat pens for the Muscatine County Fair. “Rebuilding Muscatine County”, is where 30 members helped revitalize low income housing through painting and small landscaping in Atalissa.

Members also prepared over 40 flower pots and planters at the nursing home. 14 members prepared breakfast 2 different mornings for customers at a local machinery dealer’s appreciation days.

17 members participated in the annual city wide clean-up day. 25 members spent 8 hours pulling weeds, laying mulch to help restore the early learning center’s butterfly garden.

Ag Promotion

We educate youth and the community about agriculture. The “Junior Agriculture Leaders Program” was led by 26 members, to teach 3rd graders the importance of agriculture and food origin.

Our national semi-finalist Ag Issues team conducted over 10 public forums and even presented to the secretary of agriculture.

42 members helped organize a Little Hands on The Farm interactive activity at the county fair in which over 100 children participated in a live farm scene.

The chapter officer team attended legislative symposium in Des Moines to promote agricultural education and FFA with legislators.

In 2016, our members continued to go all out into their FFA experience, and represented youth in the industry of agriculture, which amplified their success.
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