Celebrating agriculture

Chase and East Rutherford celebrate National FFA Week.
Feb. 25, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

For two local high schools, last week was a chance to bring awareness to their Future Farmers of America (FFA) programs.

East Rutherford and Chase high schools celebrated National FFA Week Feb. 15-22. The week is sponsored by the National FFA Organization and is held annually to advocate for agricultural education.

"It's a time to promote what we're about and to promote the leadership qualities," Jeremy Bradley, agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at Chase, said.

Chase had a fun activity each day for its FFA members. There was a bonfire night, a game day after school, a movie and pizza night and a day where each student wore their FFA shirt to school to show support.

"We didn't want to make it all serious we wanted to have a little fun too," Bradley said. "This is a week to promote what we are about which is promoting personal growth and career success."

The East Rutherford FFA has over 100 members who compete in various competitions including livestock judging, poultry judging, hunter safety, floriculture and meats judging.

"The FFA provides an opportunity to gain leadership experience and participate in agriculture," Morgan Jolley, sentinel for the East FFA, said. "I want to be an agriculture teacher one day."

East Rutherford FFA members celebrated the week by preparing a breakfast for agriculture teachers and traveling to East Rutherford Middle School to talk to eighth-grade students about joining the FFA. They also held an FFA Fair at the school on Monday. It was originally scheduled for Friday but had to be canceled due to weather.

During the fair on Monday FFA students showed off livestock and had classes test their knowledge on agriculture issues. The fair included cattle, a Mediterranean miniature donkey, a pygmy goat, chickens and a rabbit.

"Even kids that are raised in a rural environment, many of them don't understand where their food comes from," said East FFA Advisor Joyce Pruitt. "The kids are trying to create awareness about the importance of agriculture and the things we do."

Wilber Burgin, director of the Rutherford County Farm Museum, also let the FFA borrow some equipment to display.

"It's the heritage of our country. It's important for kids to know where our food comes from," Burgin said. "I'm pleased they are interested in the history of farming and learning about it."

Classes who visited the fair also got to try their hand at cow-judging, meat-judging and forestry.

"The whole point is to spread awareness of what we do in the FFA," Kayla Morrison, vice president of the East FFA said. "We want them to know the competitions we do and what we are about."