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Oelwein students prepare for FFA Week

FFA chapters throughout the country will begin celebrating FFA Week this weekend. Oelwein FFA members have recorded public service announcements promoting the FFA. Pictured is Oelwein FFA member Alex Duffy working with Shawn McKenna of Townsquare Media to record his. Pick up Monday’s Oelwein Daily Register to learn more about area FFA chapters.

The Oelwein FFA chapter will celebrate National FFA Week, Feb. 20-27.

Several members have and will record public service announcements at KOEL Radio to promote this special week.

Members have organized dress up days for the entire student body.

• Monday is Case International Harvester versus John Deere Day.

• Tuesday is Flannel Day.

• Wednesday is Ag Professional Day.

• Thursday is Decades Day.

• Friday is Blue and Gold Day (FFA colors).

Below, they educate the community about FFA and agricultural education.


Number of FFA Advisors: two (Bethany Pillard and Jennifer Dillon)

Number of FFA members: 134

Classes taught: Eighth Exploratory Ag, Introduction to AFNR, Animal Science, Advanced Animal Science, Plant Science, Natural Resources and Ecology, Food Science and Safety, Ag Business, and Horticulture

Highest Awards: Three-Star National Chapter Award, 2016 Top Chapter in Iowa (National Chapter Award) (Fifth place in 2019)

When was your chapter chartered? 1958

Do you have an ag plot and/or run some kind of business with your chapter (greenhouse, feed store, et cetera)?

Greenhouse and High Tunnel: We have an annual spring plant sale open to the community where we sell flowers and vegetables grown by the Horticulture class throughout the school year. This includes 55 hanging flower baskets that will hang downtown all summer in partnership with the City of Oelwein and Oelwein Chamber (OCAD). Vegetables not sold are transplanted to our High Tunnel (Hoop Building Greenhouse) and utilized in the school lunch program for students to eat what they have grown.

Test Plot Partner: We have a 16-acre test plot within walking distance of the High School where we have partnered with the Iowa Soybean Association in their new Blue & Gold project. They provide us data collection resources for ways to enhance and utilize our plot for education, in addition to helping us establish a pollinator habitat on our two terraces within the field in conjunction with the Fayette County Pheasants Forever chapter. They also arranged for two Oelwein FFA members to survey for Corn Rootworm and paid them for identifying fields, collecting samples, and reporting data over the course of four to five weeks. Mark Rechkemmer of Rechkemmer Ag Services has also helped us manage the plot over the last three years as has Randy Kiel.

Some activities the chapter excels at:

School-based SAE activities: We have many FFA members who live in town and do not come from a traditional farm background. Therefore, we have lots of opportunities for students to find an SAE based at the school so that any member can have the chance to be involved in it. These projects range from the FFA Greenhouse, FFA Vegetable Production at the High Tunnel, the FFA Test Plot (including the pollinator habitat), and two 250gal aquaculture tanks for students to raise fish in. In addition, students have raised 30 egg-laying chickens over the past year for multiple purposes, and have proposed an animal building which will serve as a long-term facility to raise animal projects as well as a classroom to learn from those animals as a part of animal science classes offered through the ag department.

Feed a Family: This year, Oelwein FFA purchased 30 turkeys to complete Thanksgiving meal boxes for families in town that may not otherwise have a traditional Thanksgiving meal due to insufficient funds. FFA members are assigned by class to bring either stuffing, potatoes, gravy, rolls, cranberry sauce, juice, canned fruit/veggies, or cake mix/frosting and pie ingredients to be placed in each family’s box. We partner with the Oelwein Kitchen Cupboard, an emergency food bank, who identifies families and deliver the boxes on our behalf. (pictured)

Favorite fundraiser:

Fruit Sales: Traditionally, Oelwein FFA hosts their annual Fruit Sales between Oct-Nov with delivery in December. For the second year members sold strawberries from Plant City, Florida (Winter Strawberry capital of the world). FFA members sold fruit in February for delivery March 2nd. Proceeds will be used to fund the building of an animal learning center in the coming years.

Favorite Community Activities:

Flower Baskets: Through planting the flower baskets that hang in downtown Oelwein all summer.

More broadly, through agricultural and hands-on learning, today’s FFA members are preparing for more than 250 career opportunities in the food, fiber and natural resources industries.

The Iowa FFA Association provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to over 15,600 student members who belong to one of 246 local FFA chapters throughout Iowa.


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