Elkin High FFA Students have flocked to advisor Clarence Edwards’ creation in ways few other activities can.
The Future Farmers of America club is Edwards’ brainchild, now wrapping up its first school year. Edwards started this club due to the growing interest in the program from students and faculty.
Edwards, an Elkin High graduate and the school’s agriculture teacher, is also the club’s sole adviser. He teaches natural resources and horticultural classes at the school. He said the club started out the school year with 32 members, with roughly 28 still participating now.
As part of the FFA, the school must have a course of study or curriculum (which Elkin does with its environmental and natural resources, agri-science applications, and horticulture classes), an FFA club, and Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAE).
Half of the starting members were seniors, but Edwards said he hopes the club will have a more balanced number of ages next year for continuity. With so many students graduating out the club needs students who will be able to participate for several continuous years.
The club works around town as part of a program calls the “Helping Hands Project.” The goal is to help students fulfill their SAE, but more than that it enables students help their fellow citizens.
The program works by students working for four hour shifts, four students at a time. Edwards tries to keep each group with at least two boys to handle the harder areas of a job. School employees are able to hire a group for $80 per shift, with the money going to the club’s treasury.
Two work shifts are scheduled for the spring; one was on March 30 during the students’ spring break, and the upcoming one on May 4.
Edwards said members of the community were interested in hiring a group, but for legal and safety reasons he elected to keep it limited to school employees. He also asks participants be smart about what they ask of the students, avoiding power tools or difficult work.
Main tasks include mulching, painting, weeding and other manual tasks. The tasks are required to be something that visibly improves the community, rather than just putting in hours and drawing nothing from it.
Edwards said he hopes the students can also help elderly people who cannot physically do the tasks they need done around the house.
Some students have even been offered jobs as a result of their hard work. Students can use the experiences on their college transcripts as well.
“There’s no better feeling to me than to know I’ve helped someone, whether it is known or not,” Edwards said.
Students also are charged with maintaining the community garden on West Main Street.
April 10 through April 19 the club held a spring plant sale. The plants not sold were donated to the high school’s Environmental Club for the school garden. Money raised benefited local charities.
The club will be traveling during the summer to the State FFA Convention and to FFA’ summer camp. In the fall they will be revisiting the Dixie Classic Fair to observe cattle judging and the animal exhibits.
The club has made its money stretch far this year. The fundraisers have brought in money, but Edwards is still hesitant to buy dress uniforms for the students before they are ready to compete.He aims to have students compete in several events next year.
T-shirts are another option Edwards is considering.
Club meetings are held during breaks in the school day. Edwards tries to avoid night meetings due to scheduling conflicts with students who play sports. The group meets in Edwards’ classroom.
To contact Taylor Pardue call 336-835-1513 ext. 15, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.