|By MEGAN KUHN
RUSHVILLE, Ind. — One of the goals of the FFA is to make a positive difference in the lives of students. Last Sunday, a Hoosier FFA chapter decided to make a positive difference in their community.
Close to 30 members of the Rushville Consolidated High School (RCHS) FFA met at Kuhn’s Orchard, owned by Junior and Pam Kuhn, to help harvest a bumper apple crop. Pam was diagnosed with cancer about six weeks ago, and they have struggled to get their apples off the trees.
“We found out on a Monday and I was in surgery by Wednesday,” Pam said.
She is recovered from surgery, but still has radiation treatments ahead of her.
This isn’t the family’s first battle with the disease. Last year around this time, Junior was the one being treated for cancer, but the crop was much smaller and the family managed on its own.
“We have a whale of an apple crop this year,” said Junior. “The kids have done a ton of work. We have a big family that helps, but there’s no way we could have gotten these apples picked this quickly without the help.”
The idea for the FFA work day started when Cliff Marlatt, a friend of Junior and Pam, asked his daughter, Kaylee, if she could get some of her classmates to help the family.
Kaylee, a student at RCHS, approached her FFA advisors, Blair Orme and Travis Harvey, with her request and they encouraged her to take it through the chain of command.
“Sometimes you try too hard to find community service projects, they become almost too planned, this was spontaneous,” said Orme. “Kaylee came in on a Monday and asked us if we could help. She took it to the chapter officers and by Sunday here we are.”
Twenty-two of the chapter’s 85 members signed up to help pick apples, Kaylee said. However, the turnout was even better than expected, with almost 30 students working at the orchard.
“A lot of people know the Kuhn family and wanted to help,” she said. “Helping out like this makes me feel really good. My aunt recently passed away from cancer so I know some of what the family is going through.”
With only five days to round up a picking crew, chapter president Brian Marlatt, Kaylee’s cousin, said that he was pleased with the numbers.
“This was mostly student-promoted, so we are really happy with the turnout,” said Brian, a junior. “A lot of these guys are in the field right now or getting ready to start, but they took the time to come out and help Pam and Junior - that says a lot.”
He added, “Hopefully this is the type of thing that our community is coming to expect from our chapter.”
Orme said that community involvement is an important part of FFA.
“We are always looking for ways to give to the community, especially our agriculture community, and this was a great way to help,” he said. “It says a lot about our members.”
The Kuhn’s daughter, Melissa McNealy agreed.
“It’s amazing that these kids are willing to help someone they don’t know,” she said. “We expected to still be picking for the next three weeks, but with this help, we will be done much sooner.”
Kuhn’s Orchard is located at 1559 West Old 44, outside of Rushville, Ind. It is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 1-5 p.m. For more information, call 765-938-1725.
This farm news was published in the Oct. 4, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.