Four Wisconsin FFA Chapters were recently awarded grants of up to $2,500 to help battle hunger in their local communities. The "Food for All" grants were a special project of the National FFA Organization's "Living to Serve" programming, with funding provided by Farmers Feeding the World and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.
Chapters applied for the competitive grants by explaining their plans to implement a year-long, sustainable project to address hunger in their communities. The projects needed to include educational outreach to the community and must involve youth in the design and implementation. The successful chapters will submit a series of reports throughout their projects and will participate in a "program showcase" display at the 2012 National FFA Convention. Just over $330,000 was granted to 140 chapters in 41 states. The following Wisconsin FFA chapters were selected to receive grant funds for their projects:
•Big Foot FFA – "Fuel Foods 4 Families"
The Big Foot FFA Chapter plans to fight hunger by making their school greenhouse available all year. Additionally, they plan to raise layer hens for eggs and meat and will conduct educational workshops on sustainable food practices.
•Neillsville FFA – "Learn to Garden at the Neillsville School Garden"
This chapter's main goal is to use the school garden as a living classroom for students and community members through a unique outreach program. They will use this living classroom to teach families throughout their community how to grow their own garden and preserve the harvest.
•Pulaski FFA – "Fresh Grown for All"
Pulaski FFA plans to design, plant, grow and maintain a community garden to provide their community with a space to grow their own vegetables. The area will be used to teach students about gardening and the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables in their daily diets. Students will also build Garden Boxes for the elderly in their community.
•Unity FFA – "The Unity CommUNITY Garden"
Through the implementation of a Unity Community Garden, this chapter aims to provide fresh produce for their weekly backpack program during the school year. The ag education students will then present handouts and food samples from the garden to the elementary students to encourage them to try new types of fruits and vegetables.
"Service-learning is a method of teaching and learning that is woven throughout the Agricultural Education curriculum," says Cheryl Zimmerman, Wisconsin FFA Executive Director. "It challenges students to identify, research, develop and implement solutions to identified needs in their school or community."
"Alleviating hunger is an especially relevant form of service-learning for our students since it is directly connected to their other learning objectives related to the agriculture, food and natural resources industry," says Zimmerman.
Agricultural education is a school-based program that prepares students for future careers related to the agriculture, food and natural resources industry. It is made up of three integral components - classes deliver content knowledge, SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) provides practical application, and FFA develops leadership and soft skills.
The Wisconsin FFA Foundation unites individuals, organizations and companies who share a common interest in the advancement of agriculture and community leadership through FFA. You can step up and help today's FFA members by supporting the programs that have been core tenets of the FFA - proficiency awards, career development events, state FFA degrees, sectional leadership workshops, scholarships, chapter awards, agri-science fair, state FFA convention and state officer support. The Wisconsin FFA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization.