Green River charters first FFA chapter in Sweetwater CountyWritten by Saige Albert
Green River - In 2015, Green River High School brought the first FFA chapter to Sweetwater County. Led by Advisor McKena Wallentine, the chapter received its charter on April 4.
“FFA is something we’ve never had before,” says Chapter Treasurer Bradley Moss. “Agriculture and FFA highly affects all of us in the community in more than one way, including agriculture, natural resources and wildlife.”
Jumping into FFA
While Moss wasn’t raised on a ranch, he says he visited his aunt and uncle’s ranch outside of town.
“I’ve always enjoyed working on the ranch anytime I could,” Moss adds. “My dad was an FFA officer when he was a kid and so were my cousins. It always seemed like a fun thing to do, and FFA was never an opportunity that I’ve been able to take.”
He continues, “I was excited and overwhelmed when the chance was offered to me.”
Starting a chapter
Wallentine says, “It’s overwhelming to start a chapter, but I think for the most part, my goal was to focus on the classroom and to teach kids about agriculture and FFA.”
“Agriculture and FFA are both so unfamiliar to our students,” she continues. “I spent quite a bit of time in the classroom helping them to understand that.”
Helping to the lay the foundation for what agriculture is and how it impacts students is important, Wallentine adds, noting that it is important to her to focus on the classroom and agriculture education.
“This is the first year that ag classes have been taught at Green River High School,” she says.
Once the classes were developed, Wallentine began recruiting students for their FFA chapter.
“A lot of kids at the school are looking for something else to be involved in,” she says. “They want to find their niche within high school where they fit, and I think FFA has definitely done that for a lot of kids.”
Wallentine adds, “It’s been incredible to see how students respond to ag and FFA.”
In forming a chapter, the first step was to decide whether FFA membership would be based in individual membership or affiliate membership.
“Thankfully, our school district is very supportive. They decided to support us in being an affiliate chapter,” Wallentine says. “That means that all of my students enrolled in ag classes get to be in FFA.”
Wallentine notes that her students then ran for offices in an interview and election process.
Moss was elected treasurer and says, “I decided to run because my father encouraged me to. It seemed like something I could benefit from, and I was interested in the skills I would learn, the opportunity it offered and the doors it could open.”
With guidance from Wallentine, students developed a constitution and by-laws.
“Another requirement is that we get a chapter Program of Activities in place, which basically is an outline of all the activities that we do throughout the year,” she explains. “Once we had those things in place, we got the go-ahead to be a chapter.”
With a number of activities in their first year, Moss notes that his favorite activities happened during FFA week.
“Even working together to set up our FFA week events was fun,” he says. “We had a great group of kids who worked really well.”
Officers, members and others all volunteered to pull off their FFA week events, and Moss adds, “It all went off much better than expected.”
In their first year at the Wyoming State FFA Convention, held April 4-7 in Cheyenne, Wallentine brought 16 students who competed in six events.
“We also had an agri-science winner,” she says. “We were pretty excited about that.”
She continues, “My main focus is the classroom, but I’m excited about FFA and the opportunities it presents for our students.”
Green River FFA members spent numerous hours working to learn the material necessary for each contest so they could be prepared for convention.
“They’ve taken the time to really learn and work hard on their own with a little guidance from me,” Wallentine comments. “It’s been really cool to watch.”
She notes that her goal was to expose as many students to state convention as possible, so she took all students who wanted to participate in contests.
“I competed in the Environment and Natural Resources and Meats Evaluation contests,” Moss comments. “My first convention was really a surprise because I had no idea what to expect, but it was extremely fun.”
Support from the school district and community has been an important part of the process of forming a chapter for both Wallentine and Moss.
“It is important that our community and school are deeply involved with us,” Moss says. “Without their support, we really would not have succeeded like we did.”
Looking forward, Moss hopes to continue to see the chapter grow. As a sophomore, he sees a lot of potential moving into the future.
“For the next year and next five years, I’m hoping our chapter will be able to grow and continue to exceed our expectations,” he says. “I’m waiting to see the day that our chapter will move up the ranks and be named in the top chapter awards at convention.”
Moss also notes that Wallentine has been instrumental in helping their chapter to succeed, saying, “I’d like to add that how our advisor has worked in the classroom has made a lot of kids join. I probably wouldn’t have been an officer or participated if it wasn’t for her helping to show us what it really was.”
“We’re pretty lucky,” Wallentine comments. “We have a very supportive administration and a superintendent who is excited about the program. I think we’ve more than exceeded any goals or expectations we had for ourselves.”