FFA: Inside the Emblem

Riverdale FFA Chapter

Posted

80 members
Muscoda, Wisconsin
Grant County

Tell us about your chapter. The Riverdale FFA Chapter members embody the National FFA Organization motto as they learn to do, do to learn, earn to live and live to serve. Our local chapter has 80 active members, representing one-third of our junior high/high school enrollment. Through various events, students demonstrate their premier leadership, personal growth and career successes. They have attended and succeeded in local, state and national leadership conferences, and judging contests. They have engaged community partners with school farm test plots, greenhouse sales, school forest management, equipment rental and joint fundraising efforts. We participate in National Ag Day, local and state fairs, and roadside cleanup days.

How does your chapter volunteer in the community throughout the year? To encourage members to become active and involved citizens in their school, community and country, our chapter plans and hosts a number of activities. As part of our Family Fun Night at the School Farm, we host a haunted walk and movie night for community members. We provide tractors and wagons to Riverdale tractor safety to create informed, safe on-farm individuals. We clean up the Adopt-A-Highway stretch on Highway 60. We provide free youth entertainment at Autumn Fest and at Avoca’s 150th celebration with our kiddie pedal tractor pulls. We plan and manage a petting zoo for Muscoda Morel Mushroom Festival. At the Highland tractor pull, we demonstrate knowledge of safe transportation and courtesy by transporting people on a hay wagon to and from their vehicle parking. We educate elementary students about agriculture by reading and donating books monthly to a district classroom. Our FFA members lead activities that coordinate with each book. During Food for America, we educate fourth graders on caring for animals, wildlife, crops, gardens and farm safety. During National FFA Week, we partake in a radio interview, helping to inform the public of agriculture and FFA facts and traditions. We visit the Wisconsin Capitol and meet with senators and representatives for FFA Day on the Hill. We host ag olympics for high school and elementary students. During farmer appreciation lunch, we prepared and delivered 150 meals to local farmers during harvest season to thank them for their work. At the Richland County dairy breakfast, members volunteer parking cars to support Richland County dairy producers.

What fundraisers does your chapter do throughout the year? Our fundraising efforts encourage thrift and good financial management among members through earnings, saving and investment. Funds are used to further agriculture and FFA opportunities to all students. We plant, manage and harvest crops each year to provide funding for students to attend conferences, contests and activities at no cost to them. Funds are also used to update or purchase equipment or implement new ideas, projects and buildings. This is also a great tool for working with community members and agriculture industry partners who donate time, products and knowledge to our education and fundraising efforts. From our strawberry/cookie dough sale, we generate income for members to earn FFA jackets, improve members’ sales skills and provide products to the community. From our greenhouse, we sell plants, such as hanging baskets, petunias, impatiens and a variety of vegetables, to generate income for student awards and state convention as well as provide an educational opportunity for students to care for the plants daily and provide an appreciated product to the community.

What are the biggest events of the year? At our FFA banquet, we recognize all members with degrees, certificates, pins and other gifts as well as acknowledge our star and outstanding members. Parents and community members are invited to see the members’ accomplishments. FFA officers provide an entertaining and informative ceremony and award students and community members for their contributions.

What is unique about your chapter? Our school district owns a 190-acre school farm and forest which is operated by our agriculture classes and FFA program. Our 650 K-12 students have access to the farm’s 44 tillable acres for crop production, a sweet corn patch, pumpkin patch, sunflower patch, raised garden bed, corn/soybean test plot, several managed forest zones, soil pit, Christmas tree plantation, orchard and recently constructed Jack Meister Agricultural Learning Center complete with a heated and cooled display area, classroom and lean-to for equipment storage. Our chapter owns and operates the farm as a fundraiser and experiential learning opportunity. This has led to our chapter acquiring two tractors, a wagon for hauling people, corn planter, gravity box and the rental of a Case tractor from Ritchie Implement. In January, a new agricultural classroom and lab facilities opened for district students and FFA members. This includes a classroom, animal lab, food science lab area, attached greenhouse and headhouse space.

When was your chapter founded and how has it evolved? Our chapter has evolved as we change to fit the needs of the agricultural industry. Members are focusing more on helping roles in agriculture as we see less students growing up in traditional production agriculture. We are fortunate to have many members still on farms in our community, but that number as a whole is decreasing in our nation. Our chapter focuses on the future of agriculture and how we can prepare our members to meet its growing needs.

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