FFA grows new skills for Moffat County’s youth | CraigDailyPress.com

FFA grows new skills for Moffat County’s youth

Noelle Leavitt Riley

FFA students Riley Allen, 15, and Ary Shaffer, 17, participate in welding at Moffat County High School.

Future Farmers of America incorporates much, much more into its academic learning than just farming techniques.

Nowadays, FFA members learn how to grow plants, weld materials, build houses and fix engines, to name a few skills.

According to the National FFA website, "The letters 'FFA' stand for Future Farmers of America. These letters are a part of our history and our heritage that will never change. But FFA is not just for students who want to be production farmers; FFA also welcomes members who aspire to careers as teachers, doctors, scientists, business owners and more."

The organization still focuses on learning about farm life, livestock and county fair activities, but the most important aspect of FFA is the leadership it provides to students, said Moffat County High School FFA Adviser Rick Murr.

"One way we try to work with students is by instilling leadership, growth and success," he said of the FFA program at the high school. "I think the best part for me is being able to teach kids a skill they're going to use for the rest of their lives. Seeing kids excited about things is exciting to me.”

Rick Murr works as an FFA advisor alongside Angus McIntosh, teaching students a plethora of skills, including public speaking.

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"Some kids are completely terrified of that," Murr said, outlining that one student who was scared of speaking in front of his class saw huge improvement facing his fears through FFA's program.

Regardless of the craft that they're learning, it's easy to see that the students absolutely love FFA. They get to weld metal materials, build shacks, fix car engines and grow flowers.

"It's a lot of real life things you apply to everyday living," said Ary Shaffer, 17. "It's something you can rely on if you needed a job."

Agricultural skills are also widely taught to students. Last November, MCHS ranked 17th out of 43 teams participating in the Meat Carcass Evaluation and Technology competition.

Additionally, students participate in milk and dairy food learning, horse evaluations, floral designs and horticulture.

The flowers that FFA students grow in class are used for flower beds at Yampa Valley Golf Course and for the Craig Beautification Committee that plants flowers throughout Craig each spring.

Residents can also buy the flowers at a reduced price.

All the money generated by FFA goes right back into the program.

"I like doing stuff with my hands, exploring new stuff," said Riley Allen, 15.

Another important aspect of FFA is that students learn to work together. For example, a group of students work as a team to rebuild a gas engine. Much of their success depends on how well they communicate and work as a group to accomplish the end goal.

That goal often is creating something that can be sold to the public so that the program can regenerate the money into its funds.

FFA students recently completed building a shed that was up for sale for $1,200.

"I like the fact that (FFA) gives the kids an opportunity to test themselves and expand their knowledge," said McIntosh. "It builds personality, self knowledge."

Reach Noelle Leavitt Riley at 970-875-1790 or nriley@craigdailypress.com. Follow her on Twitter @noelleleavitt.

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