Q&A: River Valley celebrates national FFA week

2020-2021 FFA officer team led by Mrs. Graff. Photo via River Valley School District

National FFA week is celebrated this year from Feb. 21 to Feb 27. Valley Sentinel spoke with River Valley High School FFA advisor Shari Graff under about how the RV chapter plans to celebrate. Below are her answers.

Valley Sentinel: Can you tell us about FFA week?
Shari Graffunder: National FFA Week always runs Saturday to Saturday and encompasses Feb. 22, George Washington’s birthday. The National FFA Board of Directors designated the weeklong tradition, which began in 1948, in recognition of Washington’s legacy as an agriculturist and farmer. A group of young farmers founded FFA in 1928. During classes students are engaged in hands-on activities for the week to incorporate the many facets of agriculture in our district. Promotion of the students’ various Supervised Agricultural Experiences and involvement in the Leadership Development Events and Career Development Events are highlighted to exhibit what opportunities are available to members.

Traditionally we host a pancake breakfast for the community and use the funds to sponsor FFA scholarships for the graduating class. We acquire goods from local businesses and prepare breakfast foods for the community members who attend.

VS: What does FFA week look like at River Valley this year?
SG: At River Valley this year for FFA week we have activities such as dress up days, and fi nd the emblem. Find the emblem is a student favorite because if they find one of the many paper FFA emblems around the school they are able to turn it in for a sweet treat. We also hide a cloth emblem and give clues as to where it is, if you fi nd a cloth emblem you are able to turn it in for a big treat or a gift card to a local business. This activity has students searching the halls during breaks and lunch periods for the emblem.

VS: How has COVID-19 affect it this year, compared to others?
SG: Covid has affected this years FFA week in many ways, one of those ways is our usual assembly where we do some sort of speeches by our officer team as well as fun activities like the basketball game of “horse” between a few teachers vs a few students as well as kiss the cow, where we bring a calf in and students are allowed to guess how old it is, weather its a bull or heifer calf and students can spend time with the calf.

VS: In your words, why is FFA important to students? The community?
SG: FFA has many opportunities for individuals to participate in. There are three main components to a strong Agricultural Education program – the classroom, SAE, and FFA organization. First the classroom challenges students to learn various concepts related to the agriculture industry. Secondly Supervised Agricultural Experiences have students work with career exploration, conduct experiments, become entrepreneurs, or have a placement occupation. Finally the FFA organization allows students to develop leadership skills and create networking opportunities for their future careers. Encouraging students to participate in various activities allows students to build confidence and take risks with the support of their advisor. I enjoy seeing students plan their goals, put their plans into action, and then exceed their expectations. I have truly been blessed with many amazing leaders over the years and thankful for all the opportunities the students have been offered year after year. The support of the FFA Alumni and Supporters Organization, the River Valley Administration, and the community has been outstanding over the years which has really impacted and benefited our youth!

Heston Amble, an RV FFA member also provided an answer to the importance of FFA, below is his answer.

Heston Amble: FFA is a good way for students to get more involved in the community and give back to the community. It helps students get out of their comfort zones with things such as public speaking, large group activities, and one to one discussions. It is also a good way to help students explore their interests.