By Duncan Allison
This is the season for graduation ceremonies when students receive and celebrate their certificates, listen to uplifting speeches and perhaps reminisce about their 12 years of grade school. The annual FFA Banquet (Future Farmers of America) chapter at Octorara High School provides the opportunity not only to celebrate the awards given to members but to learn about the wide range of agricultural and life-broadening activities that FFA members experience.
The Banquet was held in the Cafeteria of Octorara High School on Friday May 13th. FFA is not just for students who want to be production farmers and those interested in the many jobs available in the large agriculture and food industry.
The organization also welcomes members who aspire to careers as teachers, doctors, scientists, business owners and more. Its main goal is to help develop students with skills that will make them successful in the real world.
The Octorara FFA Chapter is one of 7,757 chapters in the United States with a total of 629,367 members but the only active chapter in Chester County.
The outgoing elected officers opened the meeting with reminders of the values of the organization and an invocation by the FFA student Chaplain, Sara Woodall. Then members, their families and invited guests enjoyed the meal prepared and served by Octorara Culinary Department students.
FFA member Chloe Cary was the first guest speaker and she explained the critical role that the Farm Bureau with its 6 million members played in advocating for the farming and rural communities across America.
Guest speaker Chris Hoffman, the Vice-President of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau with its volunteer membership of nearly 60,000 farm and rural families, never wanted to be a farmer but now has a large farming operation in Juniata County raising pigs and broilers which he only started in 1994. He encouraged FFA members to make a difference and get involved through social media in finding opportunities to acquaint the general public about agriculture.
Tyler Watkins, one of the FFA PA state student officers drove 2½ hours to attend the banquet and encouraged FFA members “to take advantage of every opportunity that arises” both to learn and “to tell our story as someone else will tell the story if we don’t!”
Octorara FFA President Glenn Barrett touched on some of the many highlights of the year and the very wide range of activities that members had been involved in and their success in several state level competitions.
Finally Octorara FFA advisors Mr. Charles Graydus and Ms. Jenna Moser presented awards to members who had participated in the wide range of academic programs and outside activities during the year. For example, Sara Woodall was the Most Active Member, Nicole Meek received the award for FFA Leadership and 39 members participated in state level conferences on four different topics.
Several members participated in the regional contests in horse judging, interviewing and tractor driving – Glenn Barrett and Mike Parme were placed first and second. Finally 11 members are signed up to participate in June at the 2016 State FFA Convention.
Proud parents and their families enjoyed a good meal and the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the past year. No one could have left without believing that the program had greatly enhanced the education of their daughters and sons and prepared them both for good careers and being committed citizens of our country.