Grown Here at Home: The life-changing impact of FFA and ag classes in school

Published: Jun. 24, 2019 at 5:38 AM EDT
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At Lord Botetourt High School, teachers like Mr. Byrd, agriculture classes where the learning is by doing, and the FFA program are having effects far beyond the classroom by helping students find their voice.

“It has completely changed me. I used to be in the back of the classroom. I couldn’t raise my hand, I couldn’t talk outside of class, I couldn’t talk in class. I couldn’t do anything. And because of FFA, I’m able to go into competitions for prepared public speaking. It’s also helped me out a lot academically. My grades have drastically improved since I’ve joined FFA,” said Faith Settle.

They’re cultivating relationships and becoming secure.

“It gives me a chance to hang around friends and gives me a purpose,” said Brandon Creasy.

And gaining an understanding of the reality of the ag industry.

“Not only are you learning things like where your food comes from. You’re learning what it takes to make it, what risks and factors farmers have to do, the amount of time they put in,” Laura Gentry explained.

“It’s not just enough to know how to do something in theory, but to know how to do it in practice,” Reagan Hall said.

“I’ve got chickens at home and it’s really nice being able to interact with them and learn more about how to take care of them, so I can give proper care to my animals at home,” said Avianna Wilson.

Equipping students, so they have the ability to equip others.

“It’s always interesting to see some of the kids from the classes that don’t have as much knowledge, but they still want to learn some. And being able to help them and teach them has really taught me and shown me a lot,” Brian Watts said.

The moral of the story -- it’s not really about whether they want to make a career in ag, it’s the experience that’s proving to be life-changing.

“They’re lessons you definitely won’t forget, but they’re lessons you won’t get anywhere else,” said Lauren Gentry.

And that’s making all the difference.

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