The Modern Face of FFA

It’s the students’ program, and we are only successful because of their hard work and perseverance. – Angela Roller, FFA advisor

By Kathleen Swift

Many of us may associate FFA with raising livestock and selling fruit at Christmas. But the Future Farmers of America is much more, and the FFA students at Seneca High School are not only award-winning students, they are getting hands-on experience in modern agriculture.

The FFA program has been active and strong in Seneca since 1977. Today, the 60 FFA students at Seneca High School are getting to use the new technologies that are changing agriculture. The FFA program has a new plasma-cutting table they can use on many cut-metal projects.

“This is new to us,” said Angel Roller, FFA advisor. “Students learn to program the machine to cut metal for a variety of projects from custom metal signs to creating more traditional ag products such as machine parts or brackets. The plasma table is cleaner, quicker and more efficient than using an acetylene torch for cutting metal. Once students have programmed the machine and set up the project, they stand back and let the machine work. Students learning to use this software have a skill that can transfer into several types of careers.”

A more traditional project in the works at Seneca is the construction of a chicken coop. Roller said, “This project allows our students in the livestock class some hands-on experience in designing and building a structure as well as providing experience in caring for the chickens. Initially, we will be raising the chickens for the eggs, but eventually they will learn how to process the meat from the chickens.”

Students interested in conservation are constructing garden barrels using 50-gallon plastic barrels.

“Students will create planting pockets on the outside of the barrels where students can plant vegetables of their choice. In the center of each barrel will be a composting column that will include worms for turning materials into compost, which will nourish the plants.

“The Seneca FFA has been a nationally recognized chapter for 13 of the last 14 years. It’s the students’ program, and we are only successful because of their hard work and perseverance. Our students are required to complete an SAE, a supervised agricultural experience, as a part of the program. These experiences can range from dog care to creating and working in a greenhouse or running a lawn mowing business. We estimate that through these SAEs, our students have a $200,000 influence on our local economy,” said Roller. “In addition, our students have won state and national awards for their SAE projects, which takes hard work on their part. They compete locally and at the state level and serve as area and state FFA officers and are active at the national level as well.”

Agriculture and FFA are changing, and the students in Seneca are learning how to use and apply emerging technologies in a multitude of applications for modern agriculture.

“We have amazing young people with a ton of potential here in Seneca,” said Roller with pride for what her students have accomplished and for the growth she hopes to see in FFA.