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FFA inspires student to follow in footsteps of former teacher

Staff Reporter

Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013

Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 01:02

FFA

Photo provided by Josh Shafer

SHSU graduate Josh Shafer with his high school Ag teacher, Mary Wilson (SHSU alumni ’68).

National FFA Week, an annual event designed to promote public education about agriculture and encourage students to give back to their communities is going on this week.

Celebrations, which entail teacher appreciation breakfasts and “Ag Olympics” competitions will be held throughout the country by local and state chapters.

These celebrations also provide opportunities of reflection for members and alumni who once wore the blue and gold corduroy jacket synonymous with FFA.

“I enjoyed [FFA] a lot,” Sam Houston State University senior and collegiate FFA member Samantha Newton said. “I learned a lot…FFA was about responsibility and time management, all while teaching us agriculture isn’t just about cows, plows and sows”

Newton isn’t the only one with fond memories of FFA. Josh Shafer, SHSU graduate and a current agriculture educator at Waskom High School, said he owes his college and career success to FFA.

“Being an FFA member in high school and taking agriculture science courses is exactly what led me to SHSU,” Shafer said.

Doug Ullrich, Ph.D., agricultural education professor and collegiate FFA advisor at SHSU, isn’t surprised by Shafer’s story, claiming FFA is “a great recruitment tool” for the university.

Ullrich said the Agricultural and Industrial Technology Department did a study about eight years ago that showed “over 70 percent of our incoming freshmen’s first time on [SHSU’s] campus was at an FFA event.”

The Ag and IT Department host several National FFA events throughout the year, including area and state competitive leadership and skills events.

According to Ullrich, the SHSU collegiate FFA chapter was formed in the early 1930s and is now the largest collegiate chapter in the country with over 130 active members.

Ullrich said that National FFA Week is a great time to give back.

“For students to give back to the community, state and country because someone somewhere gave to them when they were in high school,” Ulrich said.

And that’s exactly what Shafer has in mind.

“Now that I’ve graduated and I’m teaching Ag, I hope that I can help my students realize how great the FFA is and how well it can prepare you for almost any career, even those outside of the Ag sector,” Shafer said.

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