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FFA Week 2021: Preparing the next generation of leaders

  • Agriculture students at Chester High School are using cutout art for their valentines.

    Agriculture students at Chester High School are using cutout art for their valentines.
    Courtesy of The Sting website

Herald Tribune staff report
updated: 2/12/2021 6:01 PM

The Chester High School FFA chapter is gearing up for FFA Week, from Feb. 22-Feb. 28.

The FFA chapter at CHS is only a few years old, but club adviser and agriculture teacher Emily Millburg says she has an enthusiastic group of students -- some of whom live on farms and others who do not.

FFA, once called Future Farmers of America and now called the National FFA Organization, has branched out over the decades so that now it focuses as much on training the next generation of leaders as it does preparing future farmers.

"It's not just farm kids -- any student is welcome," Millburg said. The core values of FFA, she says, are about leadership, success and careers.

As a case in point, the Chester FFA has been working this month on making valentines for the residents of Manor At Craig Farm. The kids are continuing to make them this week, and at the end of the week Millburg will drive them over to the facility.

FFA Week always starts on George Washington's birthday, which this year is on a Monday. Festivities are being planned by the club for that week, including Dress-Up Days, and games on Friday that might include a hay bale toss and "Kiss the Animal."

The point of FFA Week, Millburg says, is to promote FFA to the CHS student body at large, "and show the opportunities it brings to students."

In mid-March, the CHS FFA will take part in a regional public speaking contest, another FFA Leadership Development event. Freshmen in the club will do "creed" speaking, about the statement of belief that FFA has.

Upperclassmen and women have their choice between prepared speaking -- in which they write an essay, read it and take questions about it -- or Extemporaneous Speaking, a challenging exercise in which students have 30 minutes to research and prepare a talk about a subject they are given (and take questions).