Two heads are always better than one when it comes to brainstorming. But when seven Michigan FFA officers and their advisor got together, they found great ideas are born.
New Lothrop FFA has grown a lot over the last five years. With 140 members on the roster and a good balance between ag-based and non ag-based members, the officer team knew the chapter was ready to take on a new community service project. After much discussion and getting a FFA Living to Serve grant, New Lothrop FFA had their project – they were going to raise 500 broilers.
“Each year we raise 100 and enter them in the State FFA broiler contest, so we decided to set a goal of raising 500 and donating them this year,” said John Wyrick, New Lothrop FFA Advisor and Ag Science Instructor. “We made a goal to get as many members involved as possible and to challenge our members to raise 25 or 50 broilers at home to donate.”
Twelve members stepped up to the challenge and took birds home. New Lothrop’s three zoology classes, which had about 60 FFA members, raised the rest at school. During the project, students were in charge of all chores including taking the weekend shifts.
Wyrick said many of the students were excited to take on the project and several had no prior experience raising chickens.
“It was very rewarding to hear some of them say they had never done it before, but would be raising more in the future based off what they learned,” Wyrick said.
The officers had set a budget of $5,000 to foot the bill for the birds. With their $3,000 Living to Serve grant and several generous donations from community members and local businesses, New Lothrop FFA was able to meet that amount and purchase all the baby chicks, feed, and processing fees for all of the chickens that were donated.
The chapter also set a goal to donate 250 broilers before Christmas and 250 after to the Shiawassee County United Way, and every last chicken made its way there.
Wyrick said the people from the United Way who came out to pick up the chickens were so thankful and impressed with the quality of the chickens New Lothrop raised.
“Each time they came out we had students go out and help them load and I know our kids felt very good about how happy they were to receive the donation and how many lives they said our donation would effect,” Wyrick said.
For other FFA chapters considering a project like this, Wyrick says one detail not to forget is transportation.
“One big thing was the amount of space its takes to take that many birds to the processer,” Wyrick said. “I would recommend booking multiple appointments and making sure you have enough help to get them there.”
Transpiration aside, Wyrick would highly encourage other FFA chapters start a project like this.
“We have a responsibility to teach kids to give back as well as teach kids and families about agriculture,” Wyrick said. “I feel this project does an amazing job of both and I would highly recommend it to other chapters.