Monday, February 2, 2009
I was introduced to the FFA, The Future Farmers of America in 1963 when a local ag teacher, Jim Bratton of Mowrystown came to recruit me for his chapter when I was in the eighth grade. Dad said, "Oh, I don't know, he will probably go to Eastern.
Eastern was our local high school now thanks to state consolidation of schools. Dad was president of Sardinia Local when the state told them they had to merge. He tried to get them to let Sardinia, Buford and Mowrystown form a school since we all knew each other, many were related and we went to churches that were active together.
No, the state didn't approve and Sardinia got gobbled up with Fincastle, Russellville and Decatur to form a school that never worked well in my opinion.
Anyway I went to Eastern and became a Greenhand member of Eastern Local at Macon, confusing because there were so many Eastern Local's. My ag teacher was Norman Rogers, a fine fellow who had his hands full with this room full of boys who didn't like each other. Each school sat in their own clan.
There were too many boys in that room and the class fell apart by the end of the year. The college bound boys like me were pushed to foreign language classes and the farm boys not going to college stayed in ag. I never even got a jacket. I have that Greenhand pin tucked away with the memories. That always bummed me.
I would visit it Mr. Rogers at lunch and ask him about teaching ag. He said I could get a "full ride' at Ohio State but I wanted to go to Purdue, considered a great ag college at the time, not that Ohio State wasn't. My math scores wasn't quite good enough so I ended up at Ohio State which was much cheaper with in-state tuition. A Quarter cost $225 for instruction compared to out-of-state tuition costing many times that.
I ended up getting a Bachelor's Degree in three years and was hired for student-teaching "on the job" at Blanchester, where I would spend most of my life. Teaching ag and the FFA I became a great supporter of the organization.
FFA is the finest youth organization for agriculture students in high school and college I have been associated with. That is saying something because 4-H is known world wide, too.
I tell people that any class is as good as the instructor. We all recognize that as we remember teachers who shaped and changed our lives.
Support your local chapter or help start one. FFA Alumni is a great out-reach of adults to support the group, many were once members themselves.
When times get tough like today I think of our future and the most promising hope is FFA members. They are great! Whether you are a farmer or not, arrange a visit with a class and get a real pick-me-up! You will discover many ways you can help, too.
Here is three cheers for the FFA!