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FFA builds skills to help with college and world of work

NASHUA, Iowa — FFA has taught Nashua Plainfield seniors Kelly Bierschenk, Caleb Smith and Allen Lantow the skills they’ll need to succeed whether it’s at college or in the working world.

Bierschenk, chapter vice president, said they have had the chance to attend leadership camps as well as the state and national FFA convention. This year, four freshman members were able to participate in the new 212 Leadership Conference at the FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny.

"This year our Experience the Action Team got second," she said. "We use that for a recruitment tool in the middle school, and this year we got 13 new freshmen members as a result."

Bierschenk said that 85 people, including members and their families, attended this year’s annual chapter banquet. Forty people went home with certificates, and 27 received Iowa plaques.

The chapter has 55 members, and 49 are in-school members.

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Bierschenk’s Supervised Agricultural Experience project is sheep and swine production. She plans to attend the University of Northern Iowa next year where she will major in elementary education.

"FFA helps you get up in front of people," Bierschenk said. "It also helps with leadership. When you’re an officer, you have to step up and get others involved. You also learn how to work as a team."

Smith, who is chapter president, said that last year 43 members participated in Career Development Events with 11members receiving a gold ranking at the state.

Chapter members mentor elementary school children through the Partners in Active Learning Support program, Smith said.

"We’re paired up with elementary students, and we help them with homework, play games and just help them out," he said.

The chapter raises money to support its activities by selling fruit, sausage and cheese each year, Smith said. This fall the chapter raised $15,000.

Smith’s Supervised Agricultural Experience project is poultry production and salesmanship. He helps with his family’s sweet corn business and also raises and processes broilers that he sells to family and friends. Smith will attend Wartburg College next year and major in business.

"FFA has given me a lot of skills that I can use in the future," Smith said. "It has taught me how to communicate with other members."

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Lantow said that the chapter is involved in a number of community service projects each year. Members helped with a Farm Safety Day Camp for fourth graders at the Floyd County fairgrounds for fourth graders.

"We told the kids about the importance of machinery safety and reaction time and how it doesn’t take much time to get injured if they’re not careful," Lantow said. "We had the kids draw safety designs and donated a scale model tractor to the kid with the best design."

Lantow said the chapter also landscaped the playground at the Nashua-Plainfield Elementary School.

"We leveled the rocks under and around the equipment," he said.

Lantow’s SAE is sheep production. When he graduates, he plans to farm with his father, Charles, and drive truck.

"I like getting involved and working with other FFA members," Lantow said.

For FFA Week, which started Friday and continues through Saturday, Nashua Plainfield FFA will have a scavenger hunt where FFA members hide and students find them. One day all the members will wear FFA colors. At the end of the week, the FFA chapter will host a trivia contest for the whole school. The losing home room’s teacher will have to kiss either a lamb or a calf.

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