“The meeting room will come to order. We are now holding a meeting of the Oak Ridge FFA Chapter.”
Hearing those words for the first time in a crowded gym was truly something to watch. The Oak Ridge FFA Chapter had their Chartering Ceremony on Thursday Jan. 24, 2019. At the event, 72 members and 107 guest were in attendance.
When you drive into Oak Ridge, Missouri, you pass the city limit sign, Oak Ridge Population: 263. This small ag community was finally able to start up the FFA program, which seemed like a long time coming. As the evening proceeded students, family, friends, and alumni started to fill up the gym. It has been a long-anticipated event since the original ceremony, which supposed to take place in November, got canceled because of snow.
The Oak Ridge community may be small, but it is mighty. Nick Thiele, the first Oak Ridge FFA advisor, praised the community’s involvement and willingness to help get the chapter started.“I am amazed at the amount of support we have, it is huge. I have had so many people in the community come up to me and say want to do this for the FFA, or we want the FFA to do this.”
When he first started in July, Thiele was ready to go door to door to get high school students involved, little did he know, that would not be necessary. The high school counselor showed him the list of interested students and Thiele was blown away by initial interest in FFA.
On the list were 64 students interested in FFA – that is half of the high school students! In their first year, FFA is creating a big impact on the students. That is not even including the seventh and eighth grade students who are involved.
In order to start the ag program, the community passed a bond issue in April of 2017. Once they selected the ag teacher, Thiele, the school was ready to get their program started. The first semester they were able to set up the officers and get settled in.
The officers had many goals to kick off the program. The biggest goal was to create a presence on campus, something they could be known for. As Thiele put it, “They wanted to be more than just boot wearing, cap wearing clod hoppers – things they could do from a leadership stand point.”
Once they had a presence on campus, they continued down their check list. This semester they are focusing more on what they could do in the community. For example, the last Saturday of FFA week, they are working with a local café to have breakfast for the community. “That gets people more aware of FFA and the emblem,” Thiele said.
In addition, the students are looking forward to the competition side of FFA. Thiele said, “I have found out these kids are very competitive. They want to become known for their competitiveness and success in the first year.” The students are working hard and studying in order to do well in the competitions.
When talking to the officers, I was able to get a better feel of the program they are creating and the passion they had for their new chapter. Each officer was excited to present their chapter and all the hard work that has gone into it.
President Hayden Seyer and Vice President Dylan Muench were most excited about the community support. Recently, the chapter just received a donated tractor to learn and use in the classroom setting. In addition to the tractor, the chapter was approved for a grant to put a green house on their campus. Shortly, the officers are hoping to finish up the shop in order to expand their opportunities. With all the support and hard work, the Oak Ridge FFA Chapter is set up for success.