Twenty-two students at Hillcrest High School will be able to forever say they were the first in their school’s history to be part of FFA.
Hillcrest High School has become the first Springfield School District’s school to have an official chapter of FFA. The group includes students in all high school grade levels, from newcomers to members of farming families.
The group is advised by Hillcrest teacher Sharon Blauvelt.
“This is the first year of a three-year process,” Blauvelt said in a statement. “I’m working on getting my certification from DESE to be certified to teach agriculture. And going forward, we’ll have at least three agriculture classes, hopefully more. This is just the beginning, and Hillcrest has 70 acres, with half of that land covered in forests. We have a lot of space for our students to learn.”
FFA, or Future Farmers of America, teaches skills beyond traditional agriculture learning. Students also learn public speaking, collaboration with local businesses, economic and money management, and other skills that they would need to work in an agricultural business.
Blauvelt says that several students have been asking for an FFA chapter for several years, including two of the seniors in the initial group of 22 students.
“Last year, I really went full swing on it and asked around to see if FFA was possible, if a teacher could be certified in agriculture,” Madison Edmondson, one of those seniors, said in a statement. “Now my senior year, it’s finally here. Our location is just perfect for FFA, and I thought it would be a perfect club or organization for our school. There’s the northside, which is maybe more countryside, but then there’s also kids who maybe don’t know about farm life but are interested in it. So it’s a great place for both.”
Edmondson had been part of 4-H in the school she attended more moving to Springfield and wanted to get an FFA chapter because she wants to become a lawyer who specializes in agriculture issues.
Blauvelt said the FFA chapter is going to be a tremendous benefit to the students at Hillcrest, specially when they’re looking beyond their high school years.
“Job opportunities, farm tours, business connections, leadership skills, scholarships, even making connections with the agriculture department at Missouri State,
Blauvelt said. “These are opportunities that weren’t available to Hillcrest students before, and now, they’re here for anyone. We welcome everyone because anyone can wear the blue FFA jacket.”
(Headline photo courtesy Springfield Public Schools)