Thursday, September 24, 2009
FFA competing nationally
By SUE WATSON
Fred Holland and Sterling Brown, sponsors of the Byhalia High Future Farmers of America group, have plenty to be proud of this year.
Their students are the first in the high school’s history or from Marshall County to win state competition and go to the national level with their projects.
The FFA group won state competition in three categories – Agriscience (Julia Green and Katelyn Terrell); Ag Issues (Gary Calhoun, Julia Green, Katelyn Terrell, Brittany Tunstall, Shaquille Blackmon, Kevin Fitzpatrick and Jessica Newsom); and Chapter Display (Shaquille Blackmon, Mandy and Brandy Howard, Jacob Bertrum, Catherine Deere and Dakota Downs).
All 12 FFA’ers plan to spend a week in Indianapolis, Indiana, in October where they will present their projects, attend seminars, and take agricultural industry tours.
The trip will be both educational and entertaining.
The group is the first from Mississippi to go to national competition in the category of Ag Issues.
They presented their research on the question “Is the American Farmer a Dying Breed” before numerous groups, including the Marshall County Board of Supervisors. The group researched for the report on the Internet and produced a powerpoint presentation and each student presented facts included in the research during a slide presentation.
The students also granted The South Reporter an interview and the following is what they had to say about what FFA means to them:
- “FFA has helped me become more of a leader and become more organized.” – Katelyn Terrell.
“And she’s a much better public speaker,” said Holland.
- “FFA has made me a better person and made me aware of what goes on in our environment.” – Julia Green.
- “FFA has helped me to mature more and to become more confident in speaking. I am not afraid of tackling anything new.” – Brittany Tunstall.
- “FFA has helped me to become more confident and helped me learn stuff I didn’t know.” – Kevin Fitzpatrick.
- “FFA has given me a better understanding of the way crops work and how trees grow and how to work the land in case I don’t go to college.” – Gary Calhoun.
Several in the group took on gardening projects with their families this year. Calhoun planted corn, squash, cucumbers, watermelons, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce and okra. He helped pick and preserve some of his produce and his grandmother showed him how to cook his vegetables.
Tunstall grew bell peppers, tomatoes, and okra and she was helped with the harvesting, cooking and eating by her father.
Last year the FFA completed several projects, including some fund-raising which will help pay for their travel.
Charity drives included a sock drive for residents at Trinity of Great Oaks in Byhalia. The socks were distributed to residents during Christmas. The members also collected canned food for New Hope Village shelter for the homeless in Holly Springs.
Members washed cars and sold barbecue plates to raise money for their club to travel.
The students are very excited to be going to Indianapolis the third week in October, where they will be among an expected 55,000 club members. The city will block off parts of downtown for the convention and business people will park away from downtown and walk to work.
Approximately 150 students study Agricultural/Environmental Science/Technology at the Byhalia High School which offers three credit hours in the subject. Holland studied agriculture (ag) under supervisor Eddie Dixon at H.W. Byers High School before coming back into the school system as an ag teacher.
“I helped him get his first cow,” Dixon said, proudly.
Holland said very few of his 150 ag students know anything about farming. Most live on two to three acres of land. Gardening is their main exposure, with the exception that some students have horses, he said.
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