With Christmas break now in full swing, Fairbury FFA is taking some time to recuperate from a busy semester, preparing for a number of competitions.
Thomas Dux, FFA Adviser at Fairbury High School, explained that FFA has had a great start to the school year, with the highest number of students enrolled that he has ever seen.
“Some of the highlights from the year: we had about 20 kids go to the district land judging competition, which was definitely up from last year,” said Dux. “We actually have 17 more members in our chapter this year than we did last year, so there is a total of 57 members in our Fairbury FFA chapter. Those are the biggest numbers I’ve ever had in an FFA chapter, so I’m pretty excited about that. Even with all those members, we have a great amount of participation.”
Some of the things Dux noted that the chapter has done include constructing a straw maze for the 125th Courthouse Celebration, cleaning up Highway 136, hosting a concession stand with the Fairbury Wrestling Club, made possible by the Fairbury Optimist Club, Husker Harvest Days, and District Livestock Judging, where Sarah McCown took sixth place.
“We’ve had really great participation by freshmen in all of these events,” Dux said. “I’ve told the kids all year that as long as they try it out, they’ll get good experience they can continue to build on. These are really great opportunities for the kids to get some career exposure and to learn from these people. There are a lot of different careers in the ag field, so it’s good for them to see everything it has to offer.”
One project that wrapped up in December was the FFA fruit sales. Dux noted that roughly 90 percent of the students sold fruit and other items, which he explained was a great turnout.
“We want to thank everyone who purchased fruit and helped to sponsor us this year,” said Dux. “All of that money raised helps us to pay for our contest registration, state convention and just running the chapter. We really appreciate all of the support from the community.
Dux believes that there will be many opportunities for the FFA members to continue to grow as they participate in events like the District Leadership Skills Contest in January.
“We really have a lot of good things going on, and I’m proud of my students for getting out there and getting involved in these contests,” said Dux.
This semester, the Fairbury FFA chapter has received a number of grants that help to give students a more hands-on experience in the classroom. Dux explained that they received a $2,000 grant from Farm Credit Services, which they used to buy a plasma cutter and other metal fabrication equipment.
Another grant through Union Bank and Trust allowed the Fairbury FFA chapter to purchase a tower garden in the green house where they can grow a variety of crops, like lettuce and bok choy. Danni Starck, branch manager at Union Bank and Trust in Fairbury, explained that they are happy to support Fairbury’s FFA chapter with the grant for $750, with the promise to purchase seeds to be used in the tower garden.
“It’s very important to support our schools,” said Starck. “We live in an agricultural community, so, any type of new technology that the bank can help with, I think is very beneficial. The tower garden is very modern technology, so it’s something that the students can learn about and can use that knowledge later in their lives.”
The other grant that they received this semester came from Farmers Cooperative, for $400, which will be used to purchase bee-keeping equipment.
“We want to thank everyone for providing these grants and donations,” Dux said. “We definitely want to continue thanking all of the FFA alumni, and all of the sponsors throughout the community. We are really blessed to be here in Fairbury and to have such great leaders help us out.”
Dux believes that FFA, and other student organizations provides great opportunities for students because it helps them to learn about leadership.
“We here at Fairbury really are fortunate to have so many organizations like SkillsUSA, FCCLA, FBLA and FFA,” said Dux. “We have all these career areas and we want to help kids find something they’re interested in doing, and something they’re passionate about in their life so they can become productive citizens. These provide them with the skills they need later in life. Not every kid is going to go to college, so these organizations can provide valuable career experience.”