When time and attention are poured into kids, they not only survive, but they also thrive. This seems to be what has happened to the Future Farmers of America in Craig County Public Schools and the agriculture class of Emily Jones.
Over the last couple of years, there have been teachers, an attentive school board and administration and especially specific community members that have brought the newly built Land Lab at CCPS from a hope to a reality.
FFA members reported their last year’s activities at the recent Farm Bureau annual meeting, and people were amazed at all of the things they had accomplished.
“It’s no wonder they love their teacher, Emily!” some shared. “It seems that she spends her last waking moments doing things for our kids.”
Jones shared some of the things they have participated in over the past few months:
- Students attended the Annual Farm Bureau Dinner where they had the opportunity to present the timeline of the Land Lab while also sharing their “Why” behind joining FFA
- Fall Festival– students set up at Fall Festival and provided youth with the opportunity to play games and enjoy a free petting zoo
- National FFA Grant awarded to Tiffany Ratliff; she is developing a roadside stand called Pearl’s Pantry that will provide the community with access to fresh produce and agricultural products on an as needed basis
- Students are currently selling meat sticks at all home athletic events to gain additional funds for travel to various conventions
- Information/pictures from Annual Dinner: The FFA officers had the opportunity to speak at the annual Farm Bureau dinner and give everyone updates on the Land Lab as well as speak about everything they have done over the past year
- The students have competed and won in many competitions including receiving sixth place overall in the state for Livestock Evaluation
“My students are looking forward to traveling and competing again this year as well!” Jones said.
A couple of her students commented on what the FFA meant to them.
“Before I joined FFA, I thought only farmers could join the club, but I was thankfully wrong. FFA has given me a voice that I didn’t even know I had,” shared FFA President Emmie Radford. “It has truly brought out my passion and I will be forever grateful for my time spent in FFA.”
“The FFA focuses on serving others, the community, making connections with new people, along with strengthening the relationships you already have,” Carter Calfee, vice president of the FFA, added, “The FFA has pushed me to improve social and leadership skills and it will do the same for anyone else involved with it. FFA provides endless opportunities for its members and prepares them for life.”
Jones also shared that her students experienced learning the canning process on green beans from community member Faye Powers.
“She went through the complete the canning process from stringing and snapping the green beans to understanding the various components of pressure canning,” Jones said.
Other classroom activities have included:
- Veterinary Visits with Appalachian Vet: Students traveled to John Hunter’s farm and learned about bovine reproduction and then the vets paid a visit to the Land Lab and taught students about herd management
- Veterinary Science Class has been studying the importance of an animal’s environment and had the challenge of moving guinea pigs from one cage to another without touching them
- Applied Ag Concepts has been studying the different components of soil and the importance of soil heath in terms of agricultural production. Students got to apply their knowledge by collecting soil samples at a local producer’s farm and interpreting the results to give recommendations for improvement
- Introduction to Animal Systems has been learning about digestion and nutrition and has made 3-D models of the digestive system while also working with Sally Farell from Virginia Tech, to analyze feed and forage labels to recognize the importance of feed composition as it plays a role in the conversion of food to energy
However, there are still many hopes and dreams for their future goals and needs for the Land Lab which could use the time, talent and donations of our community or others who wish to see children excel in today’s world and in school.
“The materials have been purchased for the building of a new barn which (once built), “will be located in the pasture closest to the road and will be used for future showmanship opportunities,” Jones shared. “Also, we are in the process of finishing the new fence in Paddock to expand our herd and our plans are moving forward regarding a new greenhouse on site.”
In addition to caring for all their animals during weekends and on school breaks, they continue to host many fundraisers to make sure they can push their dreams and goals into a stark reality.
“On Thursday, Nov. 2, anyone can enjoy a delicious meal while supporting the FFA organization!” Jones shared. “Also, join their efforts in starting an alumni group!”
The meals will be served at the Craig County High School cafeteria and is available either dine-in or carry out, from 6-8 p.m. for only $5 a plate.
The meal includes spaghetti, salad, breadstick and a drink and optional desserts will be available for additional purchase.
However, they do ask that those interested RSVP by Oct. 31 on their website, through the QR Code or via email to [email protected]. (Include name, the number of meals being reserved and if they will be dine-in or carry-out.)
“Please feel free to pass the message on to friends and family!” they shared. “We also would appreciate your outreach on social media by sharing the post on the Craig County FFA page.”
Anyone who wishes to donate towards their Land Lab can contact Jones at the school or John or Mary Hunter who have been wonderful “overseers, volunteers and cheerleaders” for this project.