When someone ask about the heart of the Enterprise FFA Chapter, the first answer would be the students, but the FFA advisors would be next. Mr. and Mrs. Dyess are filled with love and passion for their chapter. The couple has been teaching together for six years at Enterprise High School in Alabama, with a total of eighteen years of teaching under their belt. They are inspired by their students every day, while also creating opportunities for their students as often as they can.
“One of our biggest goals is just to give every kid an opportunity. Whatever the opportunity is, no matter if we like it or if we are good at it, we want to give our students that option if they would like to take it,” said Mrs. Dyess.
Opportunity is the theme of their FFA chapter. If the kids want to pursue a new activity, both teachers are willing to help in anyway they can. One big goal for the couple is to involve every member at any level possible. With many students coming from non-ag backgrounds, the advisors had to get creative to involve all of their students.
“What we have been really successful with, since we don’t have a lot of traditional ag students, is we try to think of outside-of-the-box activities to get them fired up and to get them involved.” They created an escape room for their students, based around FFA, agriculture, and what they are learning in class. That activity was submitted and selected as a finalist for the Premier Chapter Program at national convention.
In addition, they created a barter contest. Students were given a toothpick and three hours to see what they could trade up to. These activities used the student’s communication, imagination, and soft skills. That activity also qualified as a finalist at national convention. Mr. Dyess said, “We try to be outside of the box since not all our kids are from farming back grounds. We try to offer them unique activities that get them excited, and once again that helps with recruiting. “
Mr. Dyess says the best recruitment method they have is their members. “We could talk till we are blue in the face about our agriscience program, but really it is the kids who are the best recruiters.”
The Enterprise Chapter has representation of leadership on every level including a District, State, and National Officers. “When kids get to see someone from their own chapter on stage at national convention, that is a huge motivator.”
With such an active chapter, I had to ask how they make it all work. Mrs. Dyess said, “As an ag teacher, you spend quite a bit of time at school, with kids, and at conferences. We get to do it together. So its not a strain of spending late nights at school, since we are together.” The advisors said they contribute their cohesive teaching styles to compromise. “Once we started compromising, that is when everything finally fell into place.”
Mr. Dyess said, “It is definitely a strength to our program. If we are stuck at school, we are stuck together.” Many times when they finally do break to go home, work follows them. Many conversations revolve around the next big event and what they can do to make it work.
Mr. and Mrs. Dyess are the complete family dynamic. With no kids of their own, the students often see them as their own mom and dad. Mrs. Dyess said, “We have a little family within our program.”
The advisors model their classroom like a work place. Students clock in on a time card, and clock out. They have to figure up their hours and (hypothetical) rate of pay. This creates real life experiences for the students to learn from.
The Enterprise FFA Chapter prides themselves on their student’s dedication in their CEDs. Their students brought back Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals at national convention in their contest. In addition, they had a female student receive Proficiency in Agricultural Mechanic Repair and Maintenance award. At the state level, they received 25 banners from their student’s dedication. This is one of many examples that the advisors are repeatedly giving their students every opportunity possible.
The advisors believe in introducing their students to the community as soon as possible. An example of this is their Jr. Citizenship program. The students take place in local meetings including Rotary and Chamber of Commerce meetings. This allows the students to see what a productive system looks like, while also getting involved. In addition, this creates visibility for the chapter in the community.
The two advisors have such a deep passion, not only for their program, but also for their students. “We have really amazing kids. — that is all of our success. As long as we keep presenting opportunities, they are going to shine. They are going to make a difference in the ag industry. It is so cool to have those kids come in with no knowledge of agriculture and leave with a passion for it. That is why we do what we do. It is pretty incredible what kids can do with the opportunities they are given.”