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Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016

Area celebrates National FFA Week

Thursday, February 21, 2002

Amy Pearson, SCTC FFA president, helps Amber West water a marigold plant Wednesday at the Sikeston Senior High School.
SIKESTON - Third grade schoolchildren in the area and around the country will learn how food gets from the farm to their table as National FFA Week is celebrated by local members.

"It's a nationally-recognized week showcasing our local FFA chapters and state chapters within our communities," said Jackie Waller, who along with fellow agriculture education teacher Nick Nordwald serves as faculty advisor for the Sikeston Career and Technology Center FFA Chapter.

Waller said it gives members of the community and other students the opportunity to "see what we do as a FFA chapter."

"We all do different things," said Jim Russell, advisor for the New Madrid County R-1 Technical Skills Center FFA Chapter. "Just whatever works with your chapter and your kids. Each chapter has their own way of celebrating."

"We had the little preschool kids from the daycare come," said Amy Pearson, president of the SCTC FFA Chapter and senior at Sikeston High School. "We planted seeds with them and told them about how seeds grow."

Visiting preschoolers also got the chance to climb on some tractors and learn how farm equipment helps produce the food they eat.

Many FFA chapters use National FFA Week as an opportunity to present the "Food for America" program. "This is where we teach third graders where food comes from and how its made," said Russell. "It's important that we tell young kids where food comes from. They think it comes from the store."

The New Madrid Chapter is scheduled to present the program Friday. Russell expects there will be "approximately 250-260 kids involved with it."

Presenting the "Food for America" program for third graders is also the main event for the Kelly FFA Chapter, according to Jeff Scherer, Kelly High School FFA Chapter advisor.

Scherer said Kelly FFA members will show Kelly's 80 third grade students animals including rabbits, a goat, a pig, a calf, a miniature horse and regular horse and a chicken as they teach the younger students about animals and how they are used not only for food but for other products such as medicine.

"We'll also have a combine and couple of tractors with equipment," said Scherer, and Kelly FFA members will explain "how they're used to produce food on the farm.

"A couple of students will be showing a video about how food is processed and where it comes from," added Scherer, "from the farm to the consumer."

Following the presentation for third graders, preschoolers are scheduled to come and look at the animals.

A 16-year veteran advisor for the FFA, Russell said the organization "has changed quite a bit since I came here."

In recent years the FFA has expanded "from mostly farm-based agriculture education to a wide variety of subjects," according to Russell.

In addition to the traditional agricultural focus of field crops and livestock, many FFA chapters now also study horticulture, which focuses on products grown in a greenhouse, "probably one of the fastest-growing movements in agriculture."

Some chapters include food science studies, which are also gaining popularity. In food sciences, new foods are developed from old products or new techniques are used in developing food products.

Studying the care and feeding of specialty animals such household pets are another new area for the FFA. "There's a big demand for companion animals," said Russell.

The whole idea, Russell said, is to look for career opportunities in addition to traditional farming and livestock.