Nevada High School FFA opening doors of opportunity for ag enthusiasts

Another successful year of agricultural education through the FFA at Nevada High School is highlighting the opportunity for future student involvement.

Future Farmers of America (FFA) is a national youth organization with the purpose of educating U.S. students about agriculture. The FFA strives to prepare students for careers in agriculture as well as a variety of other fields. Their website states the following: “FFA develops members’ potential and helps them discover their talent through hands-on experiences, which give members the tools to achieve real-world success. Members are future chemists, veterinarians, government officials, entrepreneurs, bankers, international business leaders, teachers, and premier professionals in many career fields.”

Kevin Cooper is the FFA advisor and ag education teacher at Nevada High School. The school provides numerous opportunities for students to take classes that are meant to provide practical experience in the study of agriculture. If they are further interested, they can join the FFA and get hands-on experience for the future. “Students can join FFA to enhance their skills, knowledge, and leadership abilities”, Cooper explained. “At the high school, we have electives in ag education that include animal science, farm culture, ag business, natural resources, and ag mechanics.”

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One recent example that highlighted the program’s positive role within the community took place in the spring of 2021 when FFA members’ plants became available for public purchase. “With our greenhouse plant sale, you have an actual product that the customers buy, so it better be good,” Cooper stated. “This gives [the students] some good real-life experience.” To support the program, the community was able to buy products such as hanging flowers, tomatoes, bell peppers, and jalapenos. The school, in turn, is able to use the profits to further education in agriculture.

From April 24 to May 8, the FFA recorded over $6,000 in sales.

The high school’s FFA program has also shined a bright spotlight on a number of local students who have excelled in the classroom. For instance, this spring, over $9,000 in scholarships were awarded to eight different Nevada High School senior FFA members, according to Cooper. Included in that group of students was senior Bianca Sponseller, who also received a National Honor Society scholarship in the amount of $3,200. In addition, Sponseller was one of two seniors to be presented with a $2,500 scholarship recognizing her “academic excellence, leadership, citizenship, and service provided to others”, according to Cooper.

Nevada High School senior Bianca Sponseller shows off a quilt that was made to recognize her hard work and accomplishments with the FFA, as well as with other local school programs. The quilt was made with the help of Erin Seidl of Milk, Thread, & Honey near Carroll, Iowa, along with Terry Lyon of Tadl Tales near Toledo, Iowa. (Photo: StoryCounty.News)

Cooper also reiterated that Sponseller is just one of the many success stories that have emerged from the Nevada High School’s chapter of the FFA. In all, 31 senior FFA members were presented with an FFA graduation cord this spring, which were worn by the students at the school’s recent commencement ceremony. Many of the same local FFA graduates are now preparing to further their academic success at the collegiate level, such as Sponseller, who plans on attending the University of Iowa this fall with a major in biology, combined with a pre-med curriculum.

Eight different Nevada High School 2021 senior students earned scholarships amounting to anywhere from $500 to $1,500 as a result of their work with the school’s chapter of the FFA. (Front left to right, Chloe Henry, Ellis Moser, Hannah Fritz; Back left to right, Aubrey Gibson, Bianca Sponseller, Katelyn Kingsbury, Marshal Sheldahl, Zach Larson) (Photo: Kevin Cooper)

With the departure of many high school seniors who played an integral role in the activities of the Nevada High School FFA, opportunities abound for new potential members to get involved with the program. If you plan on being enrolled at NHS this coming fall and are interested in learning more about agriculture through the FFA, you are encouraged to sign up for an ag elective of your choice.

If you have any questions regarding the Nevada High School chapter of the FFA, you may contact program advisor Kevin Cooper by calling 515-382-3521, extension 2029. You may also email him at kcooper@nevadacubs.org.

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