Pike County FFA Goes to National Convention
Last spring, Pike County High School's FFA chapter was deemed the largest FFA chapter out of the current 333 FFA chapters in the state of Georgia with 452 members, which is 53 more than the 2nd place school. “To have four high school teachers and a middle school teacher in a 3A school is huge—not a lot of other schools have that many teachers and students involved in agriculture,” commented Mr. Greg Waits, the STEM agriculture teacher. Two of Pike County’s students in their division of agriscience at the state science fair will be competing at nationals. They are one of the top 12 in the nation. It has been eight years since Pike County has had agriscience competitors that won and went to compete at the national level.
Pike’s FFA was also named one of ten finalists in the country for the 2018 National Model of Excellence Award by the National FFA Organization. This chapter was selected from more than 8,700 national chapter applications that were submitted for judging. “Winning the National Model of Excellence Award would be great and really say a lot about our kids and community. Even if we don’t win, being one of ten chapters in the nation is a huge accomplishment,” Mr. Waits said. He also believes winning the Agriscience Fair at nationals would be amazing because it is something Pike County has never done before.
Pike County stands out among FFA chapters because there is a lot of student involvement and support from the alumni association. Teal Clark, Mr. Waits, and Meredith Camp “Student involvement is wide and varied. We have athletes and others who are super-academically inclined in our FFA—there is no barrier to being a part of it,” stated Mr. James Stanford, Assistant Principal and CTAE Director of PCHS. Because more teachers have been added, the chapter has become more diverse at many different things. Mrs. Brandi Baade focuses on the Jr. FFA officer team; Mrs. Morgan Hurkmans specializes in animal science; Mr. Shane Moore does agricultural mechanics; and Mr. Waits specializes in horticulture. “It’s a big conglomerate of everything that’s happening. Everyone is so involved, and that’s what makes it so amazing,” Mr. Waits commented.
As for the future of Pike County High School’s FFA chapter, both Mr. Waits and Mr. Stanford want to continue to “thrive, expand, and become more efficient.” Mr. Stanford believes, “If you aren’t growing, you’re dying." Pike’s FFA is already working on an eight acre paddock behind the STEM lab which will be used for cattle production. Funds are currently being raised to build a machine shop to house woodwork and equipment. This will cost $50,000 in total; however around $20,000 has already been dedicated toward it.
Submitted by Mindy Carlisle, Public Relations Intern and PCHS Senior