By DOUG GRAVES
CAMDEN, Ohio — Some FFA chapters in Ohio boast a large enrollment. In a few high schools in Ohio, FFA participation is more than 90 percent.
At the Preble Shawnee High School in Camden, that FFA chapter is on a rebound of sorts. This chapter was begun in 1986 and membership was never greater than 45 students. Three years ago participation was dwindling and word about FFA in this small, close-knit community wasn’t getting around.
All that has changed, though, thanks to an enthusiastic adviser and a trio of officers who are passionate about sharing the benefits FFA has to offer. Adviser Carmen Kennel has been at the helm of the group for two years.
“We now have 56 members in this school of nearly 500 students,” Kennel said. “Our chapter is growing and we have some enthusiastic members who are spreading the word.”
In order to make their presence known, this chapter staged numerous activities (both fun and businesslike) throughout the past year. Last fall the group raised $18,500 in just two weeks with a fruit sale.
In January this chapter held a seventh-grade career day, showcasing three careers that students can pursue through agriculture. That same month the group sponsored a bowling tournament in Richmond, Ind., drawing participation from FFA chapters in both states.
Most recently the chapter organized and sponsored a workshop, “Leaders of Tomorrow”, in an attempt to reach out to non-FFA students in their high school.
Four pillars of the business community spoke to the students, stressing the need to become a strong community leader.
“We recently met with students during our eighth-grade recruitment event,” said chapter President Darian Rader.
That recruitment event had several activities, each illustrating a different aspect of the FFA curriculum. Courses included welding, whereby students used graham crackers and icing to make different types of “welds.” A variety of foods were used to stress the basics of soil structure.
A plant science class assisted students in creating terrariums using potting, medium aquarium gravel, seeds and a few drops of water. Students were quizzed on various animal science topics. “In addition to reaching out to those in the seventh and eighth grades, we spoke to kids in grades 4-6 about the benefits of our FFA chapter,” said chapter Vice President Joan Anderson. “We’ve even reached out to the community.”
The chapter plays a major role in working during the annual Preble County Pork Festival. It has hit the Preble County roads working on litter control. The students even help the local food pantry by collecting canned food each Halloween.
“FFA has definitely had an impact on my life,” said Drew Hill, the chapter’s sentinel. “Because of my experiences with FFA, I have an interest in owning my own business someday.”