There is a small-town FFA chapter that’s making a big impact on students’ lives. Located along the Appalachian Mountains of Southwest Virginia, Pulaski is a town you may not have heard of before, but its FFA chapter is an immense part of the local community.
The Pulaski County FFA chapter recently unveiled its newest project, a student-run store called Pat’s Patch. The store was named in memory of Pat McGlothlin, a secretary in the Pulaski County High School Science Pod and a longtime member of the Pulaski County High School Adult Horticulture Program. Pat’s Patch features products made by FFA students and serves as the location for their annual plant sale.
The idea for the store came about as a response to a Career Development Event initiative to provide workplace simulation opportunities as well as to create an outlet for student projects. The store provides students with training in in subjects such as marketing, merchandising, retail, wholesale, workplace readiness skills, and entrepreneurship. It serves as a connection to the community to showcase student projects and also raises funds for programs and for the FFA chapter. Proceeds from the sales go directly toward agricultural programs at the school as well as the FFA chapter.
In order to work at the store, students apply for a position and then train during school hours. They also work after school and on special weekend sale days. Items sold at the store include woodworking projects, plants, cut flowers, seeds, photography, handmade jewelry, and bandannas for dogs. The store serves as a great “real life” lesson for the students.
Alison Jones, an ag teacher at the high school, said, “Students learn customer service skills, math, counting change, merchandising, cost/benefit analysis, proper care of plants, time management, how to use a point of sale machine, and advertising.”
The Pulaski County FFA program has steadily been increasing each year and has recently added two middle school programs. According to FFA advisor Sarah Jo, the school has 50 members this year.
When asked what she enjoys most about being an FFA advisor she responded, “I love building relationships with my students. We have some of our students multiple times. This allows us to get to know them personally and academically.” Alison Jones, another Pulaski County FFA advisor, answered the same question with, “I truly believe every student has potential and every student has something they are good at doing. It is our job to figure that out.”
Virginia Jones is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a major in Agribusiness and a minor in Animal and Poultry Sciences.