Moffat County’s Future Farmers of America focus on growth, greatness |

Moffat County’s Future Farmers of America focus on growth, greatness

Heavy farm equipment displays the FFA banner during Barnyard Day hosted by Moffat County High School Future Farmers of America. FFA focuses on agriculture-based education and training.
Andy Bockelman

The field of agriculture is a far-reaching industry that has affected every corner of the globe in one way or another since ancient times. And, despite endless changes over the centuries, farming and ranching aren’t going anywhere.

At least as far as local members of Future Farmers of America are concerned.

Moffat County High School’s FFA chapter is always bustling in terms of education, whether it be learning about the ins and outs of agricultural careers or imparting that wisdom on younger generations.

Most recently, in February, MCHS students displayed what their program is all about for local kindergartners, with displays including barnyard animals, heavy-duty farming equipment and handling techniques for livestock.

FFA’s Barnyard Day for younger kids was only part of the happenings in late February’s National FFA Week, though interacting with the curious kindergartners remains a favorite, said adviser Ray Sanders.

“It’s a longstanding tradition and they love it,” he said. “It gives the younger kids a chance to grow and learn.”

Lacey Wiseman, chapter secretary, taught kids about the function of animals on the farm with help from her border collie, Emily.

“A lot of them were super-excited about the tractor or seeing animals they don’t really get a chance to see,” she said. “I love the excitement in their faces when they get to talk about their dogs at home or what other animals they have.”

While showing her cow, Payton Voloshin fielded questions from younger students about the animal’s role in the barnyard, whether for beef or milk.

Some were well aware of its life cycle, while others were completely unfamiliar, she said.

“Nowadays, not a lot of kids know that meat doesn’t just come from the store,” she said.

Students also catered a teacher appreciation lunch and offered a career day, as well as a separate celebration for the MCHS FFA chapter’s 59th anniversary.

Sanders added that this particular school year has been a great indicator of farming’s greatest goal: growth.

“This is the biggest year the ag-ed program has ever been, there’s freshmen taking the place of our seniors, a lot of competition,” said Sanders, who is in his second year with the program. “Getting that many kids and growing the program has been great. We need more farmers, more producers. Most of these kids will have a career in some form or fashion.”

During Barnyard Day, chapter president Jared Baker and Carlin King were among those who demonstrated lassoing for awestruck young students.

“It’s nice to see the kids come out and see what we got to experience when we were their age. It’s kind of nostalgic in a way,” Baker said. “We’re able to pass it on to the new generation.”

Baker said what he enjoys most about FFA is being part of something larger than himself, as well as competitions that demonstrate the vocational knowledge that comes with the program.

In October, Baker was one of eight MCHS students who attended the 90th FFA National Convention and Expo, winning bronze honors alongside Colby Beckett, Ryan Zimmerman and Grady Anson in the forestry category, which involved developing practical uses for preserving trees and rivers.

The agriculture mechanic team of King, John T. Peroulis, Elias Peroulis and Kelton Villard also took high honors of silver or better individually.

“It’s something pretty special, and it’s something everybody should do,” Baker said.

Moffat County will bring in more than 400 Colorado kids for agriculture-based competition in April.

Baker said he’s unsure of his exact career path, whether it would be in education or business, though he’s certain it would be agriculture adjacent.

“Whether it’s just having horses when I’m older or being an ag teacher of some kind, it’s something I’m always going to be a part of,” he said.