Small Town Dynamic Changes with New FFA Chapter
Taylor County High School (TCHS) welcomes a brand new FFA chapter. Being from Perry, Florida myself, I wanted to find out how this exciting addition would enhance the dynamic of a small town. Home to a Georgia Pacific paper mill and multiple timber and lumber companies, Taylor County provides Florida and the nation with much-needed agricultural commodities, however, not much of the youth is aware that those commodities are one of the main sources of income for the entire town. FFA will bring TCHS students the knowledge and skill to contribute to the industry that gives their town so much.
Christina Routh, Florida native and alumna of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC), serves as the advisor to this new chapter. Taylor County has been reliant on 4-H programming without an FFA presence over the last 18 years. Luckily, Routh grew up heavily involved in both 4-H and FFA. “4-H and FFA will work closely since the students in FFA are high school age while the younger children are more involved in 4-H,” Routh said. She has been coaching the 4-H and FFA livestock judging team since moving to Taylor County.
“Growing students minds in agriculture needs to happen since many students don’t know that Taylor County’s number one commodity is forestry (pine trees). Even if students do not plan to go into the agriculture industry, they need to know that everything they eat and wear comes from it.”
All of this is exciting, but how does something like this come along and change the dynamic of a small town? Sponsors are a large part of getting new organizations up and running, but also help by spreading the word. Taylor County FFA currently has sponsorships from Big Bend Technical College, Georgia Pacific, Farm Bureau and other local organizations.
Sponsors of any type are always curious to know where their money goes. TCHS FFA, as of right now, has a fully functioning science classroom, lab, and flower beds with broccoli, cauliflower, mustard greens, collard greens and onions. In the future, they plan to have a land lab with show cattle and hogs.
Not only have these students and contributors started to create a voice for agricultural experiential learning, but they’re making plans and hoping to gain new members with new opportunities. Christa Hayes, a TCHS FFA officer, says she is excited to gain a better understanding of local and statewide agriculture by learning the effects of agriculture on the economy and how to gain leadership skills and a good work ethic through FFA.
TCHS FFA President, Hayden Dice said, “I have already learned why agriculture is so important. It’s more than farms and cattle, that’s for sure, but I have also gained personal experience with hands-on activities like the school garden.” FFA has a way of changing lives and opening eyes. This new rural chapter will bring a new dynamic to the Taylor County community and a broadened appreciation for the world of agriculture.
Cover Photo: Taylor County High School FFA Chapter