FFA Chapter Reaches Out

A Missouri FFA chapter donates its winnings from a recent competition to help the FFA chapter at the tornado-ravaged Joplin High School rebuild operations.

A member of the Joplin High School FFA chapter works at a vet clinic.

A member of the Joplin High School FFA chapter works at a vet clinic.

courtesy Joplin (Missouri) High School FFA

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Indianapolis — A Missouri high school FFA chapter that received a first-place prize in a recent regional competition has donated its winnings to help students in tornado-ravaged Joplin, Missouri, rebuild their FFA chapter and operations.

A multiple-vortex twister killed more than 150 on May 22. Classified an EF5, the most powerful of twisters that can sustain winds of more than 200 mph, the force carved a six-mile long, mile-wide path through the town of 49,000, destroying Joplin High School and 11 other school buildings. Franklin Technology Center operated by the Joplin FFA chapter was one of the destroyed structures.

Just three days before the Joplin disaster, an FFA chapter some 400 miles north in tiny Princeton, Missouri, learned it was among the top winners of an FFA competition sponsored by Monsanto. Princeton R-V High School’s FFA chapter received a first-place $1,500 credit line prize in the inaugural FFA Chapter Challenge

, a pilot competition that encouraged FFA chapters in seven states to forge new relationships with area farmers in turn for their online votes of support. The credit line can be used to buy FFA jackets, chapter banquet supplies, chapter medals and awards and fund trips to FFA functions.

Princeton is in the northern tier of counties in Missouri, is the county seat and has a population around 1,000 people.

“We were proud of our accomplishment and very grateful to FFA and Monsanto, but after what happened in Joplin, I spoke with my chapter officers, and we felt that donating our winnings to Joplin High School’s FFA chapter was the right thing to do,” says Bryan Williams, Princeton’s FFA adviser. “We talked about what we would do if such a disaster happened here and what our needs would be. We determined that the best way we could help is to give our Chapter Challenge award to help the FFA students in Joplin.”

When the 2011-12 begins August 17, students will attend school at a local shopping mall. Efforts to rebuild Joplin’s FFA chapter are under way.

"We don't know what we have left and what we can salvage. We have been ordered not to enter our facilities since they are hazardous areas," says Joplin High School FFA adviser Jason Cutler. "This most likely means we won't be allowed to salvage anything."

The Joplin FFA chapter is accepting financial donations to help rebuild its program. Donations can be made by check made out to “Joplin FFA” with “Joplin FFA tornado recovery” in the memo line and sent to Joplin FFA c/o Joplin schools, Attn: Kim Vann, 102 Gray Ave., Joplin, MO 64801.

“What an exceptional act of kindness and support,” says National FFA Foundation executive director Rob Cooper when hearing of the Princeton FFA chapter’s decision. “FFA teaches students core values of integrity, service and innovation and these values were remarkably demonstrated by the Princeton chapter’s decision to help their neighboring FFA chapter obliterated by such a tragic natural disaster.”

John Raines, vice president of customer advocacy at Monsanto, echoes Cooper’s praise. “We are committed to sponsoring programs that support FFA chapters and students,” Raines says. “This donation to Joplin embodies the kind of good will we are hoping to spread among those in the agricultural community.”

The National FFA Foundation builds partnerships with industry, education, government, other foundations and individuals to secure financial resources that fund FFA activities, recognize member achievements, develop student leaders and support the future of agriculture education. Governed by a 19-member board of trustees comprised of educators, business leaders, individual donors and FFA alumni, the foundation is a separately-registered nonprofit organization. About 82 percent of all sponsorship dollars received by the foundation support FFA members and agricultural education opportunities. For more, visit the National FFAFoundation’s website.

The National FFA Organization, formerly known as Future Farmers of America, is a national youth organization of 523,309 student members as part of 7,487 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The National FFA Organization operates under a federal charter granted by the 81st United States Congress and it is an integral part of public instruction in agriculture. The U.S. Department of Education provides leadership and helps set direction for FFA as a service to state and local agricultural education programs. For more, visit the NationalFFA Organization online, on Facebook, on Twitter and FFA Nation.

Monsanto is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that aim to improve farm productivity and food quality. Monsanto remains focused on enabling both small-holder and large-scale farmers to produce more from their land while conserving more of our world's natural resources such as water and energy. To learn more about Monsanto and its commitments, visit the company website.