When small communities work together to enhance their surroundings, everyone wins. The Delta FFA Chapter in Missouri heard a local nursing home needed help with a project, so they rose to the challenge to help in any way possible. Through hard work and leadership, the students were able to bring beauty, excitement, and purpose to the facility and their residents.
Kristin Hanselman the Activity Director at the Chaffee Nursing Center reached out to the Delta FFA Chapter advisor, Alissa Swindell, for help on the project. The Chaffee Nursing Center wanted to do something fun and interactive to get the residents outside and active. Hanselman asked the Delta FFA Chapter and ag program to create garden boxes that were up off the ground and also wheelchair friendly.
Before the idea could become a reality, funds had to be raised. “Between the two of us, we were able to pull enough funds together for five boxes. Morley Building Supply was great to work with the request from the FFA chapter and nursing home. They even helped draw up the plans for the boxes,” Swindell said.
With donations from family members of the residents, businesses in the community, and the Delta High School ag department, the garden veggie box project became a reality.
The project needed hard work and leadership to be successful. Landon Kirkpatrick and Ryan Helton, FFA president and vice president, took this project and ran with it. With their leadership, they were able to coordinate between the Delta FFA Chapter and Delta Ag program to have enough help to finish the projects in a timely manner. Students worked on the project on their own time, which showed their true passion for helping the community.
Swindell said, “I am proud of our chapter for always being willing and able to step up, they will take initiative. The FFA officers that we have are great leaders and get the others involved, they want to see the others involved. I think that is really something for this day and time for these kids to step out of their comfort zone and get others involved. They don’t just focus on themselves — they want everyone to be a part of the experience.”
This project did not come without its own set of difficulties. Farmers have not been the only ones affected by a wet spring. Getting the wood delivered in good conditions took time and planning due to Mother Nature’s unpredictable actions. Once the wood was delivered, the students had to make up for lost time.
The Delta FFA Chapter has shown once again that students are able to make a difference in their community. The next project will be a wheelchair friendly fitting in between the boxes, that is cost-effective. Alissa hopes to work in the future with not only the nursing home, but any other community members in need.
Chaffe Nursing Center posted on Facebook, “We got 14 tomato plants , 12 cucumbers, and four bell peppers planted today, along with our boxes getting delivered. Thank you so much to Delta RV Schools Ag department for building our wonderful boxes!”
“I have seen this chapter grow and change in dynamics while teaching at Delta,” Swindell said. “When I started teaching Vocational Agriculture at Delta 18 years ago, there were just a couple of girls in the Ag program and FFA chapter. Today, that has shifted to a 50/50 split with 22 members total. The involvement of more diverse students has added unique richness to the program that allows my students to learn from not just myself, but each other.
“The Ag Dept/FFA chapter utilizes the concepts of the FFA mission: premiere leadership, personal growth, and career success. I want my students to be prepared for life beyond high school as well rounded, productive and respectful citizens that have a strong work ethic to succeed.”
In addition to helping the community, students were also able to bring a joy back to the residents by working with their hands in a garden!