The organization, which has been commonly known as the Future Farmers of America, is now simply known as just FFA to better represent the diverse industry of agriculture. That diversity is also represented in the Greeley West FFA student chapter led by Ag teachers Kelly Longacre and Samantha Maxwell.
“Out of 360 students who are part of our program, about 90% come from an urban background,” says Kelly and Samantha. These students, without FFA, would otherwise not know about the importance of the agriculture industry or consider Ag for their future careers.
FFA does not just focus on farming in this day in age. The agriculture industry constitutes about 23% of the American workforce. This includes farmers but also engineers, mechanics, animal scientists, Ag businessmen, bankers, and even agriculture insurance agents like us! Farmers alone only represent 2% of the American workforce.
Hands On Experience
Kelly & Samantha’s classrooms are designed to teach different aspects of the agriculture industry. Kelly teaches engineering and mechanics of the Ag program and Samantha teaches horticulture. Their Ag program also offers animal science and pre-veterinarian courses.
The classroom aspect their students most enjoy is the intentional hands on learning experience. When Kelly is teaching a class on welding, the students will get to weld. Samantha has several greenhouses the students maintain themselves and get to grow plants while learning about floral studies.
Above all else, their goal for their students is to teach Personal Growth, Leadership, and Career Success. This approach has seen many students go on to future career success. Several students, from learning and getting experience in welding in the classroom, has tested out of future welding classes and started their careers with a thriving salary.
Looking to the Future
After asking Kelly and Samantha what they feel the community should know about their program, they both said it’s important for the community to know about their desire to teach and grow students but also know about their growing needs.
The Ag program at Greeley West High School typically had about 70 students enrolled on a yearly basis. But in the last couple of years, they have seen that number grow to 360. As they teach every student about Personal Growth, Leadership, and Career Success in the Ag industry, their facility is not designed to meet 360 students comfortably.
The increase in student participation has only been a result of Kelly and Samantha’s success. They are now one of the largest FFA chapters in Colorado. Although a problem they have to face, this is probably the best problem they could encounter.