Every advisor’s hope is to mold their students into respectful, passionate adults who can enter the real world and change it for the better. That is exactly what the Shoshoni FFA Chapter and their advisor, Damein Christensen, is doing. Through many new opportunities, the Shoshoni FFA Chapter was picked as one of the Chapter of the Year finalists in Wyoming.
One of the many things that attributes to the success of the chapter is their unique program. The Shoshoni FFA program includes seventh through 12th grade students. In a small school with only 380 total students, the older FFA members must set an example. Christensen said, “My older kids have to be role models for not only members, but also for seventh and eighth graders and even the elementary kids. They see each other all day.”
With such a small school, Christensen says it is easy to participate in community service since FFA plays such a major role in their community. One special way that the Shoshone FFA Chapter gets involved with their community is by decorating city hall with flowers grown in their greenhouse. In addition, the chapter helps with community annual pancake supper. They also used their pancake skills to help serve the young students who met their reading goal for the year. One member even dresses up as Cat in the Hat for the younger students.
In addition to creating role models, they are also expanding their curriculum. The Shoshoni FFA Chapter integrates a lot of new things into their program. With one of the biggest greenhouses in the state of Wyoming, they are creating new opportunities for their members.
The Shoshoni FFA chapter is excited to start a new greenhouse class. The new class, Green House Management, is a yearlong class so they can utilize the greenhouse for the whole year. In addition to the high school students expanding their experience, the greenhouse is for students in every class.
The pre-school and kindergartners get to plant their own grow boxes. With this experience, they get to plant the seed, see the roots develop down, and watch their plant grow up. This is a great way to get students at all ages involved in the greenhouse.
In order to get the students more invested in the classroom, Christensen decided to change up his teaching style. Instead of teaching at the class, he took a project approach to engage the students. Every new lesson that Christensen covers has a project attached with it. This “flipped classroom” consist of the students learning the material on their own and then creating a project to go along with it.
For example, in Christensen ’s freshman class they complete a beef project. In this project, they receive all the information to build their own ranch, run the equipment, care for the cows, and receive real word background.
In addition to expanding curriculum, the Shoshoni Chapter has also taken this year to focus on creating new leadership goals. During their officer retreat, they brought in extra help to really focus on creating new goals. After their officer retreat, they were able to implement their new goals that allowed them to better include the entire chapter.
One way they help out members of the chapter, the officer team visits all the members who have animals they are going to show at the fair. This gives the members an opportunity to show off their projects and what they know. This is also a good time to exchange tips and tricks before showing at the fair.
In so many ways, the Shoshoni FFA Chapter is a great example of a Chapter of the Year Finalist. The love and community they built in their own chapter says it all. “Not only are we a chapter, but we are a community. We really build that community into everyday lives of what we do,” Christensen said.