Upshur FFA members had a visit from two state FFA officers on Friday / Photo submitted by Allyson Lewis

‘It’s a family thing’: Upshur Future Farmers of America enthusiastically celebrate National FFA week

BUCKHANNON — The halls of Buckhannon-Upshur High School were filled with camaraderie and fellowship last week for the Future Farmers of America in celebration of National FFA week.

Future Farmers of America, commonly known as FFA, is a leadership organization with the mission of making a positive difference in the lives of students “by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education,” according to the FFA website.

Current FFA student officers collaborated with their advisors to plan a week of activities for their fellow members.

Below was last week’s schedule for National FFA Week at B-UHS:

  • Monday: No activities were scheduled as students did not attend school on Presidents Day.
  • Tuesday: Students were visited by Davis & Elkins College and the University of Northwestern Ohio. These institutions of higher learning offered advice to rising high school graduates as they continued to seek agriculture career pathways.
  • Wednesday: Prospective officer candidates for the 2024-2025 school year had the opportunity to lead their fellow classmates in a variety of leadership workshops, such as animal husbandry and FFA trivia.
  • Thursday: Students joined forces for a “Current FFA Officer Activity Day” with an abundance of agriculture and FFA chapter-related games.
  • Friday: Two West Virginia State FFA Officers (Vice-President Lacy Mitchell of Roane County and Vice-President Luke Fogus of Greenbrier East) stopped by for fellowship and interactive workshops about various topics such as public speaking and career goal-setting.
Pictured, from left, are FFA advisors Allyson Lewis, Cole Payne and Jessica Snyder. / Photo by Buckhannon-Upshur High School on Facebook

While speaking with My Buckhannon, several students expressed their appreciation for last week’s workshops. Each workshop offered an opportunity for students to broaden their understanding of the organization, its members and its mission.

“Especially with the public speaking and communication workshops, those skills will follow you into whatever career you decide to go into, whether its agriculturally based or any other profession,” said Kari Gay, a senior at B-UHS and Upshur FFA president. “Communication is key no matter what job you have so I feel that those workshops were very helpful.”

Future FFA officers had an opportunity to stand up and represent their classmates for a day of workshops and games last Wednesday.

“With me being an officer candidate, I got to host a workshop and interact with some of the students and some of them I hadn’t talked to before,” said Jaiden Fordyce, a sophomore at B-UHS and an officer candidate. Fordyce hopes to fill the position of president or reporter for the 2024-2025 school year.

When asked how an officer candidate prepares for the role and the responsibilities of becoming an officer, Fordyce told My Buckhannon that each competition she previously participated in required her to speak in front of large crowds and/or judges. She now plans to take those public speaking skills and confidence to serve as an officer in the upcoming school year.

To conclude a week of festivities at B-UHS, a FFA chapter member raised his hand to volunteer to cook for his fellow peers and advisors on Friday.

“Biscuits and gravy — it’s a staple for agricultural foods,” said Isaiah Robinson, a senior at B-UHS and a current Upshur FFA member. “The biscuits come from what you grow and the pork comes from what you raise. I volunteered to cook for the FFA members today.”

Upshur FFA president Gay said the making of biscuits and gravy honors a tradition of bringing people together for food and fellowship.

When it comes to the day-to-day membership responsibilities and opportunities that this organization provides, one student saw vast advancements in his personal and professional skill set both inside and outside of the classroom.

“You get a lot of good opportunities and a lot of good, renowned skills from FFA,” said Landon Clay, a junior at B-UHS and a current Upshur FFA member. “For example, I’m a diesel mechanic at [Fred Eberle Technical Center]. I got most of my recommendations from my agriculture teachers, Mr. Payne and Mrs. Lewis. I do a lot of Career Development Events (CDEs) through agriculture mechanics. Ag mechanics definitely prepared me for [FETC]. I knew what I was doing there because I was definitely ahead in my skills from our CDEs in FFA.”

Gay saw an abundance of additional benefits from becoming a member and a FFA officer.

“FFA to me is one big family that provides huge opportunities to its members,” Gay said. “Through FFA, I’ve gotten to travel and compete in Massachusetts and out to the west in Indiana. This organization has given me many opportunities and given me a network of people. I have friends all over the state of West Virginia now because I’ve gone to the state convention and have met all of these people. FFA is just a huge opportunity for kids in the state. It’s a family thing.”

Great rewards oftentimes comes with great challenges, and Robinson saw great personal growth from facing such hurdles.

“Through all of the challenges and obstacles I’ve been put through in these classes, I’ve learned a lot,” Robinson said. “It’s helped me grow up even, to be honest. It makes you a person. It gives you a purpose. I think everyone should be in FFA. We’re the best!”

For any student looking to join this wholesome organization, current members have nothing but positive things to say about it.

“FFA definitely means a lot to me; it’s a brother and sisterhood. It’s a big ‘ol family,” Clay, the student who is also becoming a diesel mechanic, said. “I recommend anyone and everyone to join the FFA if they can. You get good opportunities but you also get good friends. A lot of people don’t understand the meaning of a true family until they join the FFA.”

Follow Upshur FFA Alumni & Supporters on Facebook for frequent updates on student projects, fundraisers and more.

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