MHS FFA Serves as a Launching Pad for All High School StudentsSep 15, 2021
In a day and age where most attention is focused on technology, the Moore Future Farmers of America (FFA) Chapter, based at Moore High School, does more than just keeping up with the times. Hanna Aviles and Jessica Dunlap are the school's FFA Advisors and Agricultural Education Instructors. Both are passionate educators who are excited about the programs offered to local high school students, especially now that they have a new building to call home.
"This is a huge upgrade for us," said Dunlap. "When I first started, we were in a building with no air-conditioning and porta-potties. Now we have four classrooms, a metal shop, a print shop, and a state-of-the-art greenhouse."
Aviles says the new greenhouse, which is the largest FFA greenhouse in the state, is already having a significant impact on the Moore FFA program.
"I can't begin to communicate the impact of the greenhouse on our horticultural program," said Aviles. "One of the things we're known for here in the community is having big plant sales, and this allows us to expand on that. We are proud to fill it up every fall and spring for our seasonal plant sales."
While most people associate FFA specifically with farming and agriculture, Moore's advisors are enthusiastic about pointing out how the program has expanded into areas that are increasingly relevant for today's high school students.
"Our three-circle model of agricultural education is made up of classroom and laboratory instruction, FFA participation, and supervised agricultural experience (SAE)," said Aviles. "But while today's students are learning agricultural principles, those principles apply to more than just animals, livestock, or plants. We have an extensive welding program, and that's just one way kids can tiptoe into different skills and industry paths."
Horticulture is still a vital component of the FFA program, where students learn everything from planting and germination to providing a product for sale in the community. But Dunlap adds that the communication side of the process has become another educational opportunity.
"We have a print shop with a full-size commercial press," said Dunlap. "Our kids are constantly doing design work. We've designed banners for other schools across the state as well as at the Moore Public Schools administration building."
The Moore FFA Chapter also just received a grant for an industrial-sized laser engraver.
Dunlap said, "That means our kids will be able to make everything from plaques for awards banquets to those fabulous cutting boards you see for sale on Pinterest and Etsy."
The FFA program is based at Moore High School, but it draws students from all three city high schools with transportation provided by the district if students need it. In addition to the lessons learned in agricultural, welding, printing, and other "hard skills" areas, Aviles says these students pick up fundamental principles.
"I think I hate the term 'soft skills, but our kids are learning a lot of things outside of the agricultural realm that will serve them well in the future," said Aviles. "Accountability, time management, public speaking, how to develop friendships and networking relationships. They are becoming more well-rounded individuals, and that holistic development helps fuel what they want to do in the future."
When it comes to accolades, the Moore FFA Chapter has a long list to share. That includes a top-notch floral program.
"Last year, we had the state championship floriculture team," said Aviles. "That includes three individuals who finished in the Top 10 and who won scholarships. Some of them are looking at going into floral work in the future and becoming floral designers, so there are some great career development events and opportunities here."
Dunlap adds, "In the last seven years, we've been able to accrue around $80,000 in grants and scholarships. That helps us set our kids up for a successful future as well. And there's our annual Special Olympics livestock show that is one of the best things we do. Our kids love working with the Special Olympics kids on this community service event."
The bottom line for administrators across the Moore Public School community is that when you need something done, they'll tell you to call the FFA, and they'll get it done.