This past week was a historic weather event. While it may have been normal for those in the northern states, for those of us across the lower Midwest and South it was anything but normal. With the temperature below freezing and more snow and ice than we have seen in years, it was one for the history books. However, history is not often made during the easy times. Many young people in agriculture stepped up and helped their communities and took care of their animals during this snowstorm.
One example of neighbors helping neighbors was when Julianna Ramirez, president of the Shadow Creek FFA Chapter in Texas, lost power for 36 hours straight and invited neighbors over to her house so they could brave the cold together.
“We decided to ask our neighbors if they wanted to come and bring food and we could set up the generator to make warm meals,” Ramirez said. “We know how to prepare for hurricanes but none of us were prepared for a polar vortex. We were all caught a little off guard and we figured it’s better to fight together than to fight alone in the cold and dark.”
The Azle FFA Chapter in Texas said, “As we enter into National FFA Week let us remember all of the individuals involved in the agricultural industry. They don’t get ‘snow days.’ We are proud of our young people out in the weather everyday to ensure their livestock are cared for.”
Not only did they take in neighbors and feed their livestock, but FFA members also helped out their community. For example, the Tipton FFA and Alumni Association in Iowa organized a two-evening event to help their fire department. Due to the massive amount of snow they received, the fire hydrants in town were covered in snow piles. This can cause a huge safety concern in an event of an emergency. The community came together and cleared the snow away from the structures all across town so the fire department could access the hydrants.
The Magnolia FFA Chapter in Arkansas highlighted one of their younger members.
“Snow days mean so much work for farmers of all ages, including our freshman, Caroline Daniel,” the chapter said. “Caroline models true excellence when it comes to helping tend to her cattle that are a part of her family’s farm. Caroline has helped bust up water and fill tubs. She also made sure new babies had plenty of hay, especially this little one that was born in Jackson this past weekend!”
Lastly, it wasn’t just FFA members helping their community, it was also 4-H members stepping up to help wherever they could. The 4-H2O Excelsior Springs 4-H Club in Missouri scraped off the sidewalk, cars, and driveways for their neighbors. This was the community service project that the students voted on for the year.
One very grateful recipient said, “My 86 year old grandma lives in Excelsior Springs and called me today tearfully grateful. She said a 4-H group of kids came to shovel her driveway and was deeply touched. She wanted to say how much she appreciated their gift of service and how it really lifted her spirits.”
So while the national news covered how the below freezing temperatures were affecting communities — everything from frozen, busted pipes to rolling electricity blackouts — we wanted to show our pride for the agriculture industry. Although farmers and ranchers struggled to feed and water their livestock, they never stopped working and neither did the future of agriculture. Through the coldest days, the people connected to agriculture did everything in their power to protect and care for their neighbors and their animals.