March 2016
Youth Matters

The FFA Sentinel: Hatton High School Fall Festival and Summer Ag Camp

  Students from Hatton FFA Chapter tour several farms as part of their Summer Camp.

Located in West Central Lawrence County, the Hatton High School agriscience and FFA program strive to be a well-rounded asset to the school and community. While instruction in various agriscience-related areas is the No. 1 goal, the FFA chapter and its activities are used as an extension of the classroom. Activities help add to the instructional component while also providing leadership and service opportunities for our students. The importance of good work ethic, cooperation and attitude are always stressed. The Hatton chapter annually participates in various Career Development Events, State and National Conventions, and other leadership activities. Every summer, an instructional Ag Camp and community service projects are held as well.

Recently, the Hatton FFA hosted their 4th Annual Fall Festival. The chapter started the festival as a way to educate the public about agriculture and FFA, raise operating money for the program and to serve as a community service program. Although rain dampened attendance this year, the festival normally brings in around 200 people. It is held on the football field because all infrastructure needed such as the concession stand, restrooms, bleachers and open space is there in one spot.

We have tried to have a variety of activities that will draw a large, diverse crowd.

Hatton FFA members provide community service as part of their summer work experience.  

The festival consists of various activities geared toward kids such as multiple blow-ups, a dunking booth, livestock exhibits, and various games and prizes. For the adult crowd, an auction is held to sell various items donated by local businesses and individuals in support of the program. The Lawrence County Antique Tractor Club sets up a show as well. This activity was added two years ago to hopefully bring in more people. Entertainment is also provided by local talent. Concessions are available throughout the event, including 100 gallons of chicken stew.

The event takes a lot of planning, legwork and set-up time. Members of the program advisory committee have stepped up and helped out in various ways. Several parents help with things such as admissions, running the concession stand and organizing the auction.

“Without their help, it would be really hard to pull this off,” stated Samantha Culver, Hatton’s current FFA president. “Our Fall Festival is one of the greatest things we have done for ourselves and our community. The community can come together and have a great time. The preparation is tedious, but it is always worth it when you see both children and adults having fun.”

The officers always set up a display to promote FFA and its purpose. A major benefit of this event is it brings in a lot of people who can see a snapshot of our program and ways it can help our students. During the day of the festival, FFA members and ag students help set up the field and get everything ready. Signs and posters are made, the stage is placed, livestock pens set up, and stew and concession items are prepared. The next day, when the fun is over, they make sure everything is cleaned up.

Besides the Fall Festival, Hatton FFA students complete two to three community service projects in the summer. Students have trimmed shrubs at the school, built planter boxes at the local senior center and maintained the grounds at a cemetery in Mt. Hope, a feeder community for Hatton High School.

“Being able to participate in these projects gave me a sense of accomplishment. Not only did I get to help my community, but I also got to learn hands-on skills I can use the rest of my life,” said Ivey Terry, FFA vice president.

The Templeton Cemetery is where C. C. Smith is buried and is an old cemetery with many graves from the 1800s. Smith made various contributions to the Lawrence County school system. Many years ago, the Mt. Hope School Ag Department completed the maintenance at times, but the high school is no longer open. The Hatton High FFA plans to help out at least every other year by mowing, trimming and brush control.

The summer Ag Camp is basically a series of farm and industry fieldtrips to get students out of the house while also providing an extension of the classroom. Over three days, students make about six stops at local farms and industry. The camp days give students a good look at real world agriculture and job opportunities.

The activities of the Hatton agriscience and FFA program are just some examples of why these programs are still a tremendous asset to Alabama school systems. Even after almost 100 years of existence, these programs continue to educate and prepare our future leaders and help keep the much-needed agricultural industry alive. This longevity proves that, even today, few other areas in education can provide the same diverse combination of instruction, career prep and leadership activities all in one educational component!

Adam Daniel is the FFA advisor for Hatton High School in Lawrence County.