Many long-time area residents are familiar with members of Big Walnut/DACC Future Farmers of America. They see them year after year at community events, sometimes in their blue FFA jackets, but often in work clothes lending a helping hand, like at last week’s 71st Annual Sunbury Lions Club Labor Day Ox Roast.
“We had 24 students who signed up to help out on the day of the Ox Roast,” said Big Walnut/DACC Satellite Ag Science Instructor and FFA Advisor Jeff Stimmell. “Most of the jobs that they completed were either making sandwiches, working the serving line, or pulling meat from the pit.”
Stimmell said all three years that he has been at Big Walnut, FFA members have volunteered to help at the Lions Club Ox Roast, and from what he has been able to determine, it has been a long-standing FFA tradition.
“Ag Science and FFA students really like helping out with the Ox Roast,” Stimmell said. “When I was introducing the activity in class, I asked that everyone consider signing up for two hours. I had several students ask if they could sign up for the whole day.”
Stimmell said Ag Science and Big Walnut/DACC FFA members are involved in a host of other community service activities.
“One of the big highlights was last year, when the students completely planned and implemented a canned food drive for Big Walnut Friends Who Share,” Stimmell said. “In my Food Science & Safety Class, students were learning about hunger, how that influences the food industry; and they noticed how big of a problem food insecurity is. The students wanted to plan the drive and did a great job.”
Stimmell said the students collected cans and boxes of non-perishable food items during their homeroom classes to donate to Friends Who Share in the spring – a time of year when food pantries need help the most. “Another cool event is the FFA Petting Zoo,” Stimmell said. “Students learn business and planning skills by planning the petting zoo entirely on their own. “
Stimmell said students invite local daycare facilities to bring children to the high school Ag Science rooms for the petting zoo, coordinate times for different daycare visits, plan the educational components of the visits, and are responsible for other petting zoo logistics.
“Many Ag Science students and Big Walnut/DACC FFA members are also involved in area 4-H Clubs,” Stimmell said. “They will be showing projects at the Delaware County Fair next week, and involved in the fair in many other ways.”
FFA stands for Future Farmers of America, but Stimmell said FFA is more than just a program for those who want to pursue a career in farming.
Stimmell said FFA participants go on to careers not only in farming, but also into hundreds of agricultural related careers that fall under the FFA umbrella, including veterinary services, biological research, and food processing, delivery, and marketing. FFA students also go into forestry, land management, and the environmental sciences.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.