FFA means more than its label

Lauren Shank & Emily Parrish, Reporter

FFA is an organization where students can learn and interact in their specialty Ag field, and Big Spring High School has one of the biggest FFA programs in the county. The program is for students who are interested in the agriculture field, as it allows students to be more experienced in agriculture and to help them be more prepared for their career.

“FFA is one of the largest youth organizations, that is geared toward students who want to pursue a career in agriculture.” said Ag teacher, SaraBeth Fulton. However, the students do not have to have a career in the field, but instead, could join FFA to enhance their leadership skills.“FFA is a great way for students interested in agriculture to get involved, meet new people, and build leadership skills.” said sophomore, Hannah Martin. Martin is a part of the poultry group for FFA. The only requirement to FFA is that a student must be enrolled in at least one agriculture class within the school. “Because of this requirement, FFA is the only organization that is deemed “intracurricular” instead of “extracurricular.” said Fulton. This means everything that is done in FFA is somehow related to the curriculum. A student can join FFA anywhere from seventh grade up to twelfth grade. Fulton said, “Anybody can be involved and we encourage kids to be involved because they come out with amazing leadership skills and good public speaking skills, which helps them get career ready.”    

Sherisa Nailor, another adviser in the Ag program explained that Big Spring FFA is an affiliate program with the State FFA Association and National FFA Organization; that means that any student who enrolls in an agriculture course for credit is automatically an FFA member. The level of activity from students is completely voluntarily. Nailor said, “Two of our biggest events of the year are the PA State Farm Show and the State FFA Convention in June.  We typically work on and display at least seven different projects or displays during the PA FFA Farm Show. The second event is the State FFA Convention.  This event is the culmination of our year and is held each year, just after school is dismissed for the summer.”

The furthest FFA has traveled is the National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, and Indianapolis, Indiana. These events hosts more than 60,000 FFA members from across the United States. They attend each year with 10 FFA students. Nailor said, “I love that our classes and the FFA has something for everyone.” At the national FFA convention this year, Nailor won the outstanding Ag teacher award.

“FFA helps me with getting ready for my future because I am planning on working on a farm. It also gives me many opportunities to go places and get more experience in the agricultural field. I really enjoy it and everyone in FFA is just one big family and I am really happy that I get to be part of it.” said current member, Mason McCullough. Nailor firmly believes that every student should be knowledgeable and have a firm understanding of where their food comes from and the challenges that face agriculture in the future with a growing population and declining resources. On the FFA side of things, she appreciates the soft skills our members learn such as teamwork, communication, leadership and work ethic.