FFA in the Spotlight

February 13, 2019

Agriculture is part of our everyday lives – from the food we eat to the clothes we wear. This week FFA members will celebrate the role agriculture plays in our lives while sharing agricultural education as part of National FFA Week.

National FFA Week, Feb. 16-23, is a time for FFA members to host a variety of activities to raise awareness about FFA and agriculture. FFA Chapters in DeKalb County have several events planned.

The theme of this year’s National FFA Week is “Just One”. Keeping with the theme, Farm Bureau asked each FFA chapter to share “Just One” of their programs which may be new, unique, or traditional for their FFA.

Grain Show & Auction – Hiawatha FFA
Advisor: Josh Dodge
President: Emma Carlson

The Hiawatha FFA hosted their 81st Grain Show and Auction this year. This is the longest running grain show in the state of Illinois. The grain show encourages students to compete in different categories such as grain, arts and crafts, baked goods and produce. Local farmers judge the show entries and determine the best in show. The students take great pride in their projects. The auction runs on donations from local businesses that support the FFA. The Auction is Hiawatha FFA’s only fundraiser which attracts 100 visitors and over 40 donors.

Hiawatha FFA members take pride in their annual Grain Show and Auction. Shown are (from left) Travis Haak, Wyatt Exner, Ethan Hoffman, Emma Carlson, and Chloe Block.


The Grain Show and Auction is Hiawatha FFA’s sole fundraiser which attracts over 100 people each year and generates funds for their programs.


Greenhouse Projects – Genoa-Kingston FFA
Advisor: Toni Gabriel
President: Raven Ruchti

Genoa-Kingston High School has an attached greenhouse that allows the FFA chapter to do year-round projects. They utililize the greenhouse for activities such as growing turfgrass in their current unit in the landscape design & turfgrass management course. They also have tower gardens, and these give them a hydroponic take on plant production. Most days you find the door open and students moving in and out to do projects for their classes.

The Genoa-Kingston greenhouse is filled with plants and plenty of activities for students in horticulture and other classes. A few months ago the greenhouse contained poinsettias.


Ag Camp – Somonauk-Leland-Sandwich FFA
Advisors: Andrea Farrier, Sarah Landers
President: Avery Plote

Over the summer the Somonauk-Leland-Sandwich FFA chapter hosts a summer Agriculture Camp for approximately 60 elementary students ranging in age from first through third grade. It is open to students from the towns of Somonauk, Leland, and Sandwich. Ag Camp usually runs for three days and includes multiple activities to educate the children on the huge spectrum that agriculture encompasses. Some activities have included: a petting zoo, demonstration on fire safety, making various foods and crafts, and teaching fun camp songs. A great time is always had by both FFA members and children attending.

Children enjoy attending the three-day summer Ag Camp hosted and led by the Somonauk-Leland-Sandwich FFA. Most of the fun activities are centered around agriculture. Jacob Meyer is shown leading one of the activities.


Royal Orchard – Hinckley-Big Rock FFA
Advisor: Tracey Sanderson
President: Jarred Jungels

The overall goal of the Royal Orchard and Squashing Out Hunger program is to provide students with a hands-on learning environment, which will help them to understand how research and production occurs in horticulture/orchard production. The result of this work will provide an opportunity for students to then extend a service project by giving back to the community with the fruit/squash that is produced. Applying orchard management practices also links students to local agricultural industries. Hinckley-Big Rock FFA’s community service program provides fruits and vegetables to local food pantries.

Hinckley-Big Rock FFA members make apples out of wool for a display as a connection to their apple orchard. Shown are members (from left) Hope Larson, Tori Prellberg and Gabe Oeters. The Royal Orchard was established two years ago.


Next Generation Ag – Indian Creek FFA
Advisor: Julie Vlosak
President: Kayla McCormick

Next Generation Agriculture (NGA) is a program Indian Creek FFA hosts after school for 80 elementary-aged students to teach them about the agriculture industry. They host one session each month and the kids rotate through stations that relate to that month’s topic. Each station is led by high school members from all grades. The NGA program is a great way for kids in the community to expand their knowledge about agriculture and even grow interest for a future in the FFA organization and the agriculture industry.

Indian Creek FFA members Brian Muetze, Cade Bauer and Logan Bend lead one of the Next Generation Agriculture programs at Indian Creek Elementary.


Vet Tech – DeKalb FFA
Advisor: Sarah Peterson
President: Trevor Yaeger

One of the most popular things DeKalb FFA does in their Animal Science class is their Vet Tech unit, concluding with practicing skills on live “patients.”  They get many students with a strong interest in pursuing animal science careers and they love the opportunity to get hands on with animals during class. After learning about all portions of a physical exam, students practice these skills on animals in class. They practice proper restraint and handling, taking vital signs, and looking for signs of general health. They practice on both small and large animals. These hands-on skills are the ones that students remember and hopefully take with them into future careers.

DeKalb FFA member and Animal Science student Maddie Clark (center) practices restraint and handling of both small and large animals while classmates take down vital signs.


Family Ag Night – Sycamore FFA
Advisors: Kara Poynter, Brandie Burgess
President: Hanna Diehl

Family Ag Night is one event Sycamore FFA is really proud of. The FFA works with the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce, local farmers, and the Farm Bureau to share the importance of agriculture with the community. The event, part of Tuesdays on the Town, occurs every September in downtown Sycamore where visitors awe at the site of a combine, tractor, ATVs, sheep, horses, calves, rabbits, and so much more. Sycamore FFA members share their livestock and machinery projects on this special evening. They enjoy teaching the community the importance of food and farming. This September will be Sycamore FFA’s 4th year organizing the event.

Sycamore FFA brings a variety of ag-related things to the Family Ag Night in downtown Sycamore to show the community the importance of agriculture in our county. Hanna Diehl (left) is pictured with one of the sheep at Ag Night.