Hutchinson earns top chapter honors
HUTCHINSON — Hutchinson FFA is Minnesota’s top chapter.
It's quite an honor for the program that didn’t exist after it was dropped in the 1980s.
Strong support from the community got the program included in a successful levy referendum in 2000, said Lavyne Rada, Hutchinson ag instructor and FFA adviser.
Hutchinson FFA has developed numerous programs focused on ag topics. Many of the programs were included in the chapter award application.
The chapter conducts a farm safety day each fall for Hutchinson fourth-graders.
"We figure that’s an age when they will probably be starting to stay at their friends’ houses," Rada said. "A fire truck comes to the farm and we teach them how to call for emergency services by dialing 911.
To promote healthy lifestyles, the chapter revamped bingo cards, with each square containing a feature of a healthy lifestyle. When a student got a bingo, his or her name would be placed in a drawing. The winner received prizes donated by the community. The four-week long program was a hit.
The chapter also hosts a leadership contest for younger members. Chapter officers write the curriculum and call FFA alumni to assist. It creates a bond between FFA alumni and new members.
Hutchinson FFA also has a crop plot. Proceeds from crop sales cover chapter fees, Rada said.
Those and other programs get their start through the chapter’s officer retreats in the summer when the chapter calendar is developed.
Students are attracted to the diverse ag education offerings.
Rada joined the program four years ago. She revamped the curriculum to include classes on food science, large and small animals, floral design, horticulture landscape, wildlife and online leadership.
The programming has attracted new students.
"Students realized there was more to FFA than just dairy judging," she said. "That’s part of it, but there are so many things that make up agriculture."
Student numbers have grown to 200, up from 23 when she arrived.
"I’ve worked really hard to make sure we have a balanced program with good leadership opportunities, good curriculum and to get the students the experience from all that so they can be hired someday."
Other top 10 chapters in the state were Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg, Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted, Forest Lake, Sleepy Eye, Red Wing, Dassel-Cokato, Morris Area, Cedar Mountain and Plainview-Elgin-Millville.