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National FFA Week highlights local ag industry
Turlock High School student Trevor Cook gives THS Principal Marie Peterson a few lessons in welding during Thursday's FFA event at Turlock High School. - photo by CANDY PADILLA/The Journal

High school students of the local chapters of the Future Farmers of America contribute year round to the agriculture industry in their community, but once a year there is a special time to highlight these students’ efforts: National FFA week.

National FFA week presents the public an opportunity to not only become acquainted with national agriculture efforts but recognize the efforts of the youth in the local agriculture industry. While many locals are familiar with seeing the blue FFA jackets near the animal showing pens at the Stanislaus County Fair, these students work year-round to support and expand the agriculture industry. With topics ranging from animal showings to floral arrangements, dairy products identification to public speaking, FFA offers something for everyone. During National FFA Week chapters across the country host events pertaining to agricultural education and the students of Pitman High School and Turlock High School are no exception.

Turlock High School hosted lunchtime activities on Thursday that included pitting faculty against students in welding, wood shop and floral arrangement activities. The FFA week not only provides THS the opportunity to allow uninvolved students and faculty to become acquainted with the happenings of the agriculture industry, but also allows FFA students to showcase the organization that has served as a backbone of their education for years. 

Pitman High School will be holding their FFA festivities on Tuesday.

“FFA and the ag industry has been a huge part of my life. It has taught me leadership skills, helped me with public speaking and provided me with so many opportunities,” said Makenzie Neves, a junior and current secretary of the THS FFA chapter. 

Evident by its motto of “Learning to do, doing to learn, earning to live and living to serve,” FFA offers students more than an afterschool activity: it lays a foundation for a career path.

“FFA keeps you busy during the years with showings and competitions and in the summer there are a lot of job opportunities. With the experience you get by the time you graduate you can really have a career and not just a job,” said Travis Alexander, a second year Pitman FFA member.

The local chapters are currently preparing for their showing season, which includes competitions in farm power or tractors and machinery, dairy product identifications, floral arrangements, animal showings of cattle, hogs, sheep, poultry and more. The hands-on approach to learning not only builds character in students, it motivates them to take charge of other areas of their life.

“FFA has really helped make me a well-rounded student,” said Pitman student Mckenze Darche.