Macon, GA – Living to Serve. It’s the last three words in the FFA motto, and it was put into practice on the first day of convention, as high school students from all over the state volunteered their time in the Macon community that served as their host for the weekend.
“Roughly 800 FFA members of the approximately of the 6,000-7,000 that are attending convention this weekend will be out in the community,” says Kevin Jump, Central Region Ag Education for the FFA. “This year, we will be at 12 sites.”
One of those was the Rescue Mission of Central Georgia, an organization that serves as a life recovery program for both men and women in need. This particular project was a natural fit for the FFA, as the kids got a chance to showcase some of their Ag knowledge.
“I mean, it’s always good to do work and research other stuff, but it’s always good to sort of return to your roots literally and physically,” says Jump. “It’s good to work with the soil, you know, it’s hands on. That’s what I really love about it. It’s hands on. You’re returning back to what you did first year, what you did as a kid really.”
“We’ve got these wonderful kids with the FFA out here planting gardens, and not just planting, they weeded the raised beds and they put a lot of hard work into that,” says Pat Chastain, President of the Rescue Mission of Middle Georgia. “So, we’re going to take pride in making sure this thing is maintained in the right way. So, to see them and their hard work was huge.”
While all this hard work will certainly benefit the Rescue Mission, it’s also helpful for the students, as they get pride in knowing they had a big hand in improving the community.
“I really think it’s great to help the community just because, you know, you’re becoming a part of it,” says Kevin Poole, part of the Locust Grove FFA Chapter. “You’re not just standing aside. You’re being active. You’re helping yourself be helping other people and that’s truly a great feeling.”
“These young kids come out and wanted to know how they could give back and how they could help somebody that was in need and volunteered their time and effort so that we could have fresh vegetables here to serve our men and women,” says Chastain. “So, that touched our hearts.”
This effort will be appreciated by the 36 men, 7 women, and 22 children at the Rescue Mission that will be able to enjoy meals that are literally farm to table.
“There’s a few things that we really use around here a lot and that can go a long way, like tomatoes and squash and peppers. So, I think that’s going to be the bulk of what’s planted and the guys really appreciate fresh vegetables. So, what’s grown in that garden goes right back in house,” says Chastain.
All this is truly a labor of love for these students, as they genuinely enjoy the community outreach.
“You know, I really like it just because all my friends are out here. All my teachers are out here, my advisors, people from different schools. I can really meet new people, new other members and just having a great time helping people,” says Poole.
Having the nearly 800 members helping out in the community is not just a great message being sent by the FFA, it also serves as inspiration to those involved with the organization.
“It’s a beautiful thing to see and it’s incredibly contagious,” says Poole. “It actually brings life back into us older teachers who have kind of been around a while, been there done that, that new enthusiasm that the student shines is just a bright light to see.”
By: Damon Jones