The Frontier FFA Chapter in Wyoming sets the bar high for their students. The members are expected to put in hard work to accomplish their goals. The students realize the time and dedication it takes to become successful in life. Their advisor, Joe Allen, helps the students chose their own paths and sets them on the road to success. A part of that success starts with new and innovative ideas.
One of those ideas came from a student. While doing an individual swine project, she wanted to expand her marketing project into a breeding swine project. Little did they know how successful this project would be. What started off as an opportunity for the whole classroom to be involved, soon became a worldwide hit. Through their new breeding swine project, they were able to follow a pig through all the parts of the breeding journey. The students tracked her heat cycle, learned about the AI process, and watched her gestation cycle.
To help keep track of everything, the class set up a webcam to observe Pinky 24/7. The rest is what Joe calls a happy accident. He started to notice more and more views from across the country. When time came for Pinky to have her babies, the chapter had a farrowing party with surrounding ag groups. That day the webcam had over 11,000 hits including people from Japan, Mexico, and France.
Once the pigs have farrowed, Pinky continued to teach the members of the Frontier FFA Chapter. For example, the students were able to learn more about the health of animals and the shots they have, castration process, and the weight gains process. Once the students had the opportunity to learn through hands on experience, the chapter then turns to the students to see if they would like to buy the pigs for their SAE projects or to show in the fair.
In addition to expanding the swine project, the chapter started a new project this year. Their Catch-A-Pig program provides a scholarship to help young 4-H members who are trying to get their start in showing for 4-H, but need financial help.
Joe said, “We went out to get sponsorships from the local community. Through those sponsorships, we were able to help five kids. Those sponsorships allowed the students to get what they needed to get started with buying their first show pigs.”
Along with the chapter members, Joe would visit the young 4-H kids to help get the pigs ready for the fair. During the project visit, would help the kids learn about raising their new pig including, how to feed, take care of it, and to get ready for the county fair.
During the county fair, they were able to have a class just for the five 4-H kids with the sponsorship. The judge picked the top market pig out of those five and the winner received a belt buckle for their hard work. All five kids continued into their second year of showing with the help of the Frontier FFA.
Another contributor to the Frontier FFA Chapter success is member inclusion. The chapter implemented the committee system this past year. Students were able to select what committee they were most passionate about. In addition, they had Special committees for Wyoming advocacy week and FFA week. In their monthly meetings, they make sure students are more active than just sitting and receiving information. They make sure the chapter is driven by their 94 members.
A major part of an active chapter is hands on experience. The Frontier FFA Chapter utilizes their ag lab for their members. Students in the ag science classes are required to do a project and research in the lab. Some options they have is a 500-pound aquaculture tank where they grow tilapia. New to the lab is a Farm Bot which is a computer-controlled gardening system. It takes care of everything – plants, weeds, waters etc. The chapter is looking forward to implementing and learning more about the Farm Bot.
Joe said the success of the chapter is largely due to the students with their hard work and determination. “The students that we have in our program can do anything they put their mind to. I have watched kids whether it be successful at contest or the students who said they wanted to become state officers and they have been able to do that. I am really proud of the fact that kids in our chapter, if they put their mind to it, they are going to be able to succeed in whatever they have decided and set their goals for.”