Three high schools in Katawaba County are working to rebuild their programs for future American farmers after losing two years of events and activities.
Bande High School FFA Consultant Shannon Vanhoy reflected on the growth of the FFA during the end of the year. She said: “I feel like most of the 225 students on the program have started a new program this year because they have never competed in Ag Day or any other FFA team before.
The program was able to organize the annual Ag Day in April after two years of cancellation due to the epidemic. Ag Day is important for the Bandisius community because it provides an opportunity for 1,200 students from Bandis and surrounding schools to learn about local plants and animal husbandry. This includes animals that grow on campus.
St. Stephen’s High School FFA Program has increased from 65 to 107 students this year. The school will be a collaborative program using fundraising and donations, making every agricultural student a FFA member.
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“This was a great opportunity because students used to have to pay to join the FFA and now every student in the agricultural department can benefit from being in our organization,” said Alice Hartley, St. Stephen’s FFA Adviser.
Hartley said he hopes the event will eventually feature a chicken show featuring silk feathers. The program has previously been donated to the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Poultry Group and breeding program.
Banner Hill High School was building a strong FAA program before the outbreak, but the COVID-19 protocol only allowed FFA virtual events, which consultant Shaw Davis said most students were not interested in.
“We and our students have lost steam. We are in the process of rebuilding, ”said Davis. He said one exception was the program’s rescue team.
Bunker Hill and Bandis High School Hunter Safety Teams have reached the top of the district competition this year and advanced to the state competition.
Banner Hill is third in the district competition, the best finish in at least a decade. The school had a student who was personally qualified for state competition.
Bandis High School’s gold team is first in the district, while Camille Creek Middle School’s two junior teams are first and second. The teams advanced to the state championships, and the Bandis Gold team finished 17th overall. Mill Creek gold team finished 12th and green team 26th.
At Bandis High School, members of the FFA program occupy one-fourth of the student body. To become a member of the program, students must take the school’s agricultural department.
The school’s FFA program offers students the opportunity to participate in a cattle breeding group, said Bandra FFA Consultant Laura Parker, as students get to show off their beef loans from local producers. Students can compete in hunter safety, food science, job interviews, dairy quality, agronomy and meat assessment. Some years the teams change according to the needs of the student, Vanhoi said.
The program hosts the sale of three greenhouse plants each year, offering a variety of plants depending on the season. Horticulture students work hard to ensure that the greenhouse is filled with plants to support the school’s FFA program.
Officers at Bandis High School FFA 2021-22 said Jason Dagenhart, a member of the hunter-gatherer group, and Colby Black, a member of the cattle show team and hunter-gatherer group, said the program gave them the ability to build and maintain friendships.