Giving back

FFA Alumni contribute to success of local program

By Lasondra Aurand Telescope News
www.thebellevilletelescope.com

National FFA Week is February 17-24

While this week celebrates the achievements and goals of the National FFA Association, it also provides the opportunity to recognize those who support the FFA and its members as well.

In 2009, the Republic County FFA Alumni was formed to do just that.

“We basically just wanted to organize a vocalized support of our ag program at our schools,” says Republic County Alumni President Nick Hansen.

Officially, the purpose of the Alumni is to support and promote the local FFA organization and promote greater knowledge of the ag industry, as well as supporting ag education and the National FFA Association in local schools, Hansen said.

In order to do this, the Alumni works closely with advisors to see how they can help with different events.

For example, they may provide judges or sponsors for a contest, Hansen said.

“Not every chapter has an FFA Alumni group,” says Jed Strnad, an alumni of the Belleville FFA who returned to teach at the school as an agriculture education teacher along with David Graham.

“At Republic County, we are very lucky to have an adult support group who not only cares about the success of our students but is willing to support us through various monetary, time, and expertise donations.”

Interact with students

The Alumni provides a multitude of services to the Republic County FFA Chapter. For years, Hansen has prepared mountain oysters for members at their “FFA Fun Night.” Board member Joe Strnad has also prepared pancakes for many years at the appreciation breakfast the FFA chapter holds during FFA week.

Board members often judge Supervised Agricultural Experiences, interview chapter offi cer candidates, and listen to Public Speaking events.

This year, the Republic County FFA chapter held Back-to-School Barbecue where the Alumni helped supply and prepare food.

“We like to help out wherever we’re needed,” Hansen says.

Scholarship support

Besides volunteering for different activities, the Alumni also donates generous funds to the students.

Since its formation in 2009, the Alumni has donated $10,000 for students to make the WLC trip, Hansen says. WLC stands for Washington Leadership Conference, and it provides a chance for students to spend a week in Washington D.C. participating in leadership activities.

“I really appreciate the alumni’s support of WLC. It really was a trip I will remember the rest of my life,” says Riley Woodward, senior member of the Republic County FFA Chapter who attended last summer.

In order to donate funds, the Alumni holds multiple fundraisers throughout the year. This winter, they had a free will donation soup supper at a RCHS basketball game. April 13 , they will be holding