Since 1928, the National FFA Organization, previously known as Future Farmers of America, has provided American youth with firsthand experience in the various fields of agriculture.
With over 735,000 members and more than 8,800 local chapters, the National FFA Organization is one of the largest youth organizations in the United States.
In 2017, students at Richfield Springs Central School began preparations to form a local FFA chapter, which was officially chartered in 2019.
For the past two years, the RSCS FFA has introduced local youth to careers and experiences in all of the elements of agriculture, including farming, agricultural science, business, and technology.
The student-led organization is supervised by RSCS Technology and Agricultural Science teacher Roger Barkman, who was also a member of the FFA during his high school career. “It has been a rewarding experience working with the students, and the local community has been very supportive,” Barkman said.
The FFA program involves both curricular and extracurricular components.
During the school day, members take classes on agriculture in addition to planning agricultural events at club meetings where students learn parliamentary procedure for conducting club business.
One of the highlights of the FFA program are Supervised Agricultural Experiences in which students develop their own projects to apply agricultural knowledge learned in the classroom.
SAE projects take place in four categories: Foundational projects which seek to expand students’ overall understanding of the agriculture industry; Research/Experimentation and Analysis; Ownership/Entrepreneurship, which consists in planning and operation of an agriculture-related business; and Placement/Internships in which students work for pay or experience in an agricultural setting.
“We currently have students conducting SAE projects in beef, tractor repair, landscaping, wood, poultry, and dairy,” Barkman said.
RSCS’ FFA chapter currently has 20 student members and has…