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Agriculture learning goes beyond classroom

Staff writer

Learning a life of agriculture is more than just selling cattle and showing sheep. FFA students learn an array of community, social, and leadership skills, which are needed for living in small, farm-based communities.

FFA member Landon Roberts, a freshman at Hillsboro High School, is preparing to take his swine and sheep to competition in Phoenix, Arizona, over Christmas break.

However, he plans to work with swine as an FFA project year-round.

“Right now I have five,” Landon said. “I have three young ones and an older one.”

After the show, he’ll keep one pig.

“Since we buy our pigs, they will go back to the owner we bought them from, but we do have one barrow and he will be slaughtered for meat,” Landon said.

His three sheep will be shown in Phoenix as well, and will be sold after the show.

Being in FFA is a Roberts family tradition.

Not only have all his siblings been in FFA, his mother is FFA adviser. Even his grandfather was in FFA.

Besides competing at livestock shows, FFA students learn other aspects of living an agriculture life by participating in supervised agricultural experiences.

Sonya Roberts, FFA instructor for Hillsboro High School, said SAE is a component of the agriculture education program along with FFA and classroom and laboratory learning. It is an extension of the FFA classroom.

Often SAE work is paid employment, but not always.

“SAE does not have to be wage earning,” Roberts said. “Areas of SAE include placement, entrepreneurship, research, exploratory, and service-learning students learn, do and earn.”

SAE is an extension of the agriculture classroom, Roberts said.

Landon hasn’t yet decided on the right SAE for him.

“I mostly want to learn the leadership role and know more people,” Landon said. “I’m really shy around new people and I kind of want to come out of that more.”

Other FFA members have found SAEs that hit the spot for them.

Marion High School senior Carley Stapleford gets SAE learning about horticulture by working at Aunt Bee’s in Marion.

She works in the greenhouse doing planting, transplanting, and tending seedlings. She also creates floral and plant arrangements, takes phone calls for the business, and runs deliveries.

“I’ve learned a lot of customer service skills and communication skills,” Carley said. “When I started I was really shy, especially about talking to adults.”

She has also worked in Marion’s community garden.

She plans to study agribusiness.

Hillsboro High School senior Callyan Lacio, president of her 35-member FFA chapter, said part of her SAE project is working in the garden center of a Walmart store.

“Every day when I go in there I am learning about the plants,” Callyan said. “I also get to learn about the chemicals that people would use every day on their plants.”

She also does SAE work at a veterinary clinic in Marion, a project she started when she was a 9-year-old 4-H member. She gets to observe during surgery and other animal care procedures.

The Hillsboro High School chapter also does a number of community service projects through the year.

“One of our main things we like to focus on is Main Street Ministries,” Callyan said. “This summer we bought shoes for the kids at Main Street Ministries.”

Last year, chapter members donated socks for the children and the chapter just finished a jeans drive, donating 80 pair of jeans.

Next month the chapter will donate gifts for needy children in the community and abroad, participating in both a local Christmas gift collection and Operation Christmas Child, a mission program.

Callyan’s career goal is to do zoological field research.

Last modified Nov. 8, 2017

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