Many people who work in agriculture related fields will tell you they got their start by being a part of FFA. The Ohio FFA Association, with 305 chapters across the state and more than 23,000 students involved in agricultural education, provides valuable, life shaping experiences for our young people.
While FFA members are prepared for careers in agribusiness, agri-science, production agriculture and a host of other job opportunities on and off the farm, FFA also teaches students the importance of leadership and community service.
With this in mind, last year ODA began working on a cooperative effort with the Ohio FFA Association and the Ohio FFA Foundation to help local FFA chapters finance worthy community development projects. This venture, known as the Agricultural and Rural Community Outreach Program (ARCOP), is funded by a $38,000 grant provided by ODA through the Ohio Rural Rehabilitation Fund.
In 2013, the FFA Foundation selected 13 projects to fund with ODA’s ARCOP grant; each chapter received $750 to $2,500 depending on the needs of their project.
We will be highlighting some of last year’s winning projects over the next few months. Our first project comes from Anthony Wayne FFA in Lucas County.
Anthonny Wayne FFA received grant funding for a project combining plant science and community service. The group purchased a hydroponics system, which allows for growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water without the use of soil. The hydroponics system was purchased from CropKing and installed in their chapter greenhouse.
An FFA member serves as the hydroponics coordinator, checking for pH levels and monitoring plants on a daily basis. The system is growing lettuce that the FFA gives away to families of their chapter and school.
Our second project comes from Eastwood FFA. Their members worked in conjunction with Wood County emergency coordinators to provide training for the local EMS units and volunteer fire departments to handle farm accidents.
Training was provided about large farm machinery, hazardous chemicals and materials, as well as grain handling equipment. Training increased the Wood County EMS and fire units’ knowledge, response, and abilities to handle an accident on a farm.