Here at Harrisburg High School, FFA, which is the largest student-led organization, provides a place for all students to belong and continues to impact them in countless ways. The chapter is led by advisors Tara Fastert and Josh Christansen, as well as the student officer team. To find a way that all students can participate in the chapter is currently a major focus. In fact, one of Fastert’s chapter goals is raising participation numbers and getting people interested earlier in high school. Although she encourages participation at any age, she strives to get students involved earlier so they get more benefits from their wide variety of experiences. Some of these benefits include leadership skills, knowledge of agriculture, good sportsmanship, lifelong friendships, work ethic, and self-confidence.
These benefits come from FFA activities such as competitions, fun nights, and community service projects. FFA competitions consist of career development events (CDEs) and leadership development events (LDEs). On November 23 members will participate in a district LDE competition where they anticipate advancing to the state level. These events teach students important skills that will help them in their academic, career, and personal life. Denesa Wilson, the chapter president, has personally developed more skills through FFA. After competing in Ag Communications, she became more comfortable speaking and began to excel in her English classes. This year the officer team set chapter goals that revolve around community service. Recently, students brought sandwiches and dessert bars to the local Worthing grain elevator; they were met with smiles and thankfulness from both workers and farmers. While helping out and supporting the community, members develop not only leadership but also social awareness that will accompany them throughout their lives.
When asked what part of being an advisor stands out the most, Fastert replied, “The best part of being an advisor is watching students succeed, win, and achieve their dreams and goals.” In and out of the classroom, she assists students in reaching these goals by motivating them to be more involved. By doing this, students look forward to showing up to class every day and all out of school events. Denesa Wilson agrees that others feel the same way she does about FFA and that they will continue to cherish such experiences. “One experience, an unforgettable one, that stands out is going to the National Convention and seeing the whole place packed with blue,” states Denesa. This year's national convention, the biggest annual FFA event, was held during the last week of October in Indianapolis. Six students who actively participated in FFA were given the opportunity of a lifetime to travel there; let's just say that the twelve-hour drive made many lasting memories. At the convention, they got a full view of agriculture around the nation and opened their eyes to the full benefits of FFA involvement. Some even played a game or two of corn hole with the Texans.
While encouraging members and providing them with memorable experiences, the FFA has bettered the lives of those involved. Advising the students, Fastert hopes to leave an everlasting impression on everyone who comes into her classroom. However, the legacy left behind by all members is the FFA motto: Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.