The Center FFA chapter has been chosen as a finalist in two areas of the 2018 National Premier Chapter Awards. Their categories of qualification include:
- Building Communities award; and
- Growing Leaders award.
The programs recognize outstanding FFA chapters throughout the country that actively implement the mission and strategies of the organization. These chapters improve their operations using the National Quality FFA Chapter Standards and a Program of Activities (POA) that emphasizes growing leaders, building communities and strengthening agriculture. Chapters are rewarded for providing educational experiences for the entire membership.
To be eligible for the Premiere Chapter Awards, a chapter must first apply for and receive their National Chapter Award, a distinction given to only eight chapters in North Dakota. From there, the chapters are evaluated by two separate sets of judges and given a one, two or three star rating. In order to apply for a Premiere Chapter award, a chapter must receive a three-star rating. Of the eight National Chapters from North Dakota, Center and Rolla were the only chapters to receive a three-star rating.
Each of the award categories receives over 2,000 chapter applicants before being narrowed to ten finalists in each area. The Center FFA Chapter facilitated two programs in the 2017-2018 school year which qualified them as candidates for these prestigious awards: Their Adopt a Texas Classroom project and their Wildcats Wandering the World project.
ADOPT A TEXAS CLASSROOM
The POA submitted for the 2018 National Premier Chapter: Building Communities award, Adopt a Texas Classroom, focused on gathering and delivering necessary supplies for a Texas class affected by 2017’s Hurricane Harvey.
“After seeing an online post from a Texas teacher saying she was accepting applications for people to adopt a classroom, I approached our then-president Abby Hintz to see if this is something our chapter wants to do,” says Nikki Doll, Advisor of the Center FFA Chapter. “It didn’t take her long to decide we should focus on this service activity for the year.”
The classroom adopted by the ND school was a class with special needs within the Cy Ridge High School in Houston, Texas. In order to spread awareness and gather donated supplies, members of the chapter created posters, fliers and sent out letters to students and members of the Center Community.
“It didn’t take long for donations to pour in from members of the community and people we didn’t even know,” explains Doll. “We packaged the supplies and sent them with a group from Garrison High School that was heading to Texas for their own service project, and they hand delivered them to the classroom in need,” she continues. “The whole experience was incredibly rewarding and I am so proud of our members and our community.”
WILDCATS WANDERING THE WORLD
The POA submitted by the Center FFA Chapter for their second area of nomination, the Growing Leaders award, Wildcats Wandering the World, focused (and continues to focus through its successful implementation) on bringing virtual career fairs to the students of Center-Stanton High School.
“We had been holding traditional career days, but they were limited only to businesses and industries in our surrounding area,” says Doll. “Kathryn Doll, the school counselor and I pitched the idea of holding a virtual career fair to our students, who agreed it would be a great project, and together we started brainstorming on how it would work.”
After gathering information on the students’ interests and the careers they would like to learn about, the result was a bi-monthly virtual visit from professionals from a variety of industries and in different locations around the country. “These people came to our classroom via Skype, Google Hangouts or whatever worked best for them, and simply talked about their careers, what they do, how they got there and interacted with the class,” says Nikki Doll. “We were able to get our students to see more, and to me, it brought to life a classrooms without limitations.”
The project started in the second half of the 2017-2018 school year and quickly grew into an opportunity the students cherish. This year, the project is being run by students with the goal of continuing to grow this program. “They have been working hard to gather a list of guests and are still aiming for two every month,” says Doll. “With all the incredible guests we have, it’s becoming normal for our students to see people just like them doing extraordinary things. ”
PRESENTING AT NATIONAL CONVENTION
While the efforts of these projects are chapter-wide, two members from the chapter are selected to present their work on the national stage alongside the other nine finalists from around the country. Abby Hintz and Caden Albers will present Adopt A Texas Classroom, while Shelby Meckle and Teegan Henke will present Wildcats Wandering the World. The presentations will happen on October 24th at the 2018 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis.
“A year ago, I set being a finalist for a National Premiere Chapter award as a 20-year goal, and less than a year later our chapter is a finalist for two of them,” explains Doll. “I am proud of the work our members have done, and am thankful for the incredible support from our school, community, the North Dakota FFA Foundation and North Dakota as a whole. It really does feel like everyone is rooting for us.”