April 2016
Youth Matters

The FFA Sentinel: Active and Engaged

  FFA members at New Brockton High School are preparing their annual vegetable garden.

The New Brockton FFA Chapter is having a very productive school year.

The New Brockton FFA Chapter had a very productive first semester of school and has continued to be productive during the second semester of this school year. From community projects to exhibits, everyone has and continues to participate with much enthusiasm. Under the guidance of our Chapter Advisor Keith Lee Gunter, we have made outstanding progress in our yearly endeavors. Gunter strives to include and involve all students in every activity undertaken during the school year.

We began our 2015-2016 school year with multiple projects and field trips. Our chapter was invited to Country Best Farms in Enterprise to learn how to plant and care for strawberries. All participating members worked hard to remove each individual strawberry plant from the flats, load them in boxes, carry them down to the field and plant each one in the correct place provided. At the end of the day, we had helped plant over 14,000 strawberry plants.

One of our yearly activities, and our most favorite, is attending and working at the Coffee County Farm-City Petting Zoo. The petting zoo, started as a one-day event, has now grown into a two-day event. Our FFA members are responsible and delighted to help setup, clean up and work during this event. Our members really enjoy helping in all areas of the petting zoo, from serving juice and peanut butter crackers to working the livestock pens. Over 1,000 elementary students, teachers and guests attend this event each year, contributing to making it very successful. Participating in this event is an excellent learning experience for everyone involved.

Once a year, chapter members are chosen to spend the day setting up for the Farm-City Banquet held at the New Brockton Farm Center. We have a significant responsibility when preparing for this event. Our duties include setting up tables and chairs, dinnerware, seating and serving approximately 350 guests.

For many years, the New Brockton FFA has had a display booth at the National Peanut Festival in Dothan. This year’s theme was titled “Blue Ribbon Memories.” We worked on this exhibit for approximately eight weeks. We had a great deal to display in our exhibit this year. Our exhibit featured pictures with a short description from several of our “Blue Ribbon Memories.” We cut and glittered picture frames, letters and ribbons.

The National Peanut Festival’s Greased Pig Contest is a favorite event for some of the FFA members.  

We also participated in the National Peanut Festival Greased Pig and Calf Scramble. This year, we had two young ladies, Alex and Bethany, participate in the Greased Pig event. Alex came home with the winning prize, a greasy pig.

This past year was the 18th year the New Brockton FFA Chapter has been in charge of the National Peanut Festival Lamb Show. Our responsibilities for this event include weighing the lambs, checking their ear tags, checking health papers, assisting the judge, recording placings and presenting the ribbons. This year, we had over 70 lambs from Alabama, Georgia and Florida participating in this event.

About 10 years ago, our FFA chapter began participating and building an exhibit for the Alabama State Fair in Montgomery. This year’s theme was “The 10 Best Days of Fall.” Students were asked in each class to tell what activities or things they liked or enjoyed best about fall. Upon completion of this survey, we came up with a list of the 10 top things we enjoy about fall. We did our best to make our exhibit look like the fairgrounds. In our booth, we placed woodchips and tickets at the base of our exhibit with glittered letters, put in a wooden Ferris wheel and put balloon darts on the back wall. We also had train-like boxcars being pulled by a wooden tractor that described what our chapter considered to be the 10 best things about fall. After all the weeks of hard work and planning, we finally loaded up and traveled to Montgomery.

Between building exhibits and participating in lamb shows, we had several shop projects we accomplished. New Brockton Elementary School requested a new storage building be built for use at the school. The FFA members met with teachers and administrators to determine the size of the building as well as choose an appropriate site. This project required us to determine the materials and labor required for the task. Throughout this project, students acquired skills that aided them in constructing the floor, walls and roof of the shed. Once completed, the students loaded and transported the shed to the site.

One of our smaller shop projects was to complete floats for the National Peanut Festival Parade and for our local New Brockton and Coffee County Queens.

As our Christmas break began, we had many deadlines that needed to be met. We participated in the Angel Tree project at our school by purchasing and wrapping Christmas gifts for a needy family. One of our own teachers was married over Christmas break and our chapter created and constructed small, wooden, column-type boxes in which to put flowers for the wedding.

Our chapter also plants and maintains a school garden. The students enrolled in seventh- and eighth-grade agriculture classes are responsible for maintaining the garden. Now, the garden has cabbage, collards and turnips growing in it.

As you can see, our chapter stays extremely busy and we take great pride in the knowledge we gain from each activity we undertake. We have many projects and events to complete for the second semester of school. The county and district FFA competitions are coming up very soon and we plan to have multiple teams to compete. Gunter has hoped that our teams will go all the way to state and win.

We could not be more thankful to Gunter for what he has instilled in us, whether it is work ethic or determination.

As expressed, our FFA chapter keeps busy with various projects and there is no project we will not attempt within reason. We are proud of our chapter; therefore, we venture into all projects with great pride and joy.

Taryn Mitchell is a 12th grade member of the New Brockton High School FFA.