FFA, ag classes teach leadership

Published 6:15 pm Tuesday, March 3, 2015

By Taylor Bush

“FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agriculture education.” This is the mission statement of the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Organization, a program that BHS has been a part of for many years. The National FFA mission statement accurately describes the role that the BHS FFA chapter and agriculture education classes play in the lives of the students.
The BHS agriculture department focuses on three intertwining components: classroom/lab experience, FFA involvement and a Supervised Agriculture Experience Program (SAE Program). All of the three components are advised by the two agriculture teachers, Farish Mulkey and Martin Bius. Mulkey is a returning teacher at BHS and is motivated to help grow the FFA and agriculture program. Already this year, the advisors have seen excellent involvement from students.
The classroom/lab experience is the first step in becoming involved in BHS agriculture. This component recommends that students who are involved in agriculture participate in at least one of the offered courses at BHS. These courses are Basic Ag Science, Landscape Maintenance, Horticulture, Animal Science, Wildlife Management, and Forestry. All of the courses are taught by either Mulkey or Bius and cover many of the branches of agriculture education. Farish Mulkey says, “I want students to understand that Ag is so much more than just cattle and hogs, despite what many people believe. 20% of jobs in the United States are involved in Ag and these students should be exposed to all of the possibilities that holds.”
The FFA is the largest club at Bainbridge High School with a total of 202 students. The club meets once a month and offers all members the opportunity to participate in competitions. Members of the FFA attended the Georgia National Fair in October and the Georgia Junior National Show this February. At the competitions, students were entered in numerous categories where they represented BHS very well. Students earned fifth place in the categories of Land Evaluation, Job Interview, FFA Quiz, and FFA Creed. In both the Livestock Evaluation and Extemporaneous Speaking categories BHS placed third. In Meat Evaluation the students placed fourth, and in Tractor Operations the students placed eighth. Mulkey and Bius are very proud of these FFA members.
The SAE Program is a major part of the agriculture department. This program helps students choose a project under one branch of agriculture and nurse it into a life experience. This is where the three components begin to intertwine and support each other. Students take what they have learned in the classroom and apply it to their project. The projects vary widely from raising and showing cattle, growing a vegetable garden, or to working on and maintaining plantation land. The projects give students the opportunity to practice agriculture in their free time and to gain an understanding of their abilities. This teaches FFA members how to manage responsibility and leadership, which is the ultimate goal of the agriculture advisors. “We give students a chance to use what they learn in class and apply those lessons to work outside of school. We want this to help our members be leaders and hard workers. That is what’s important,” explains Mulkey. The advisors assist students with their projects in every way they can, making it possible for any students to be involved.
The BHS FFA is always accepting new members. Under the guidance of Farish Mulkey, Martin Bius, and the FFA officers, the club is growing every month. BHS will continue to support the efforts of the agriculture program and the positive work it is doing.

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