Future Farmers of America growing chapter at SHS

........................................................................................................................................................................................

The Future Farmers of America mission is dedicated to making a positive influence in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, potential growth and success through agricultural education.

The FFA program at Socorro High School is taught by Michael Gains with New Mexico State University student teacher Carolyn Lauritzen. FFA is offered as a program at Socorro High School, and students can only participate in FFA if they are enrolled in one of Gains’ classes, which include mechanics, metal fabrication, leadership, agriculture and welding.

The FFA program started at Socorro High School in the 1930s, Lauritzen said. Through FFA Gains says he wants to build a hands-on program.

“In FFA, the students learn leadership, communication skills and public speaking skills and present themselves with etiquette,” Lauritzen said. “Through FFA the students will also learn and know how to run a meeting and know what procedures to follow and be comfortable talking one-on-one.”

This is the first year for students to submit floral entries, Lauritzen’s FFA students have been learning techniques on flower balance, proportion and how the colors mix together, using a color wheel. The students also learn how match flowers with each season and settings. They are currently working on corsages as a fundraiser for Homecoming, she said. FFA encourages the students to get interested in careers within the floral industry, Lauritzen said.

“I want them to think about the future possibly with floral design,” Lauritzen said.

Through FFA students also learn how consumers receive their crops and have realistic views about Supervised Agriculture Experience. SAE encourages students to participate in hands-on projects outside of the classroom. Through SAE students are involved in the workforce of agriculture, can volunteer, or do an internship to put it on their resume and get recognition. With SAE, students gain experience within farming and public relations, she said. Lauritzen says she can see everyday how the students develop their artistic skills, and how they could also potentially get a job in floral design and event planning..

“We want to give them a foundation for different facets, and FFA helps with customer service skills where students take orders and learn how to work with money.” Lauritzens said.

Through FFA, Gains keeps students involved in many projects. Currently at Socorro High School FFA is working to get the green house more productive. Lauritzen wants students to eat healthy and know where their food products are coming from and understand the companies who process the dinner products.

Since Socorro High School doesn’t have a floral class, there is a floral team where there are career developing events which the students on the team participate in. At the events, students identify horticulture products and compete in district contests then go to state, she said. Awards such as ribbons and trophies will be given out to the winners, Lauritzen said.

“The students will get a work experience to get a job with a company. It’s realistic on what a job requires,” Lauritzen said.

Gains encourages his students to branch out in floral design and eventually wants to expand the program, said Lauritzen. Juniors Erika Leon and Megan Sandoval are on the floral team for the chapter to compete in FFA in the spring.

Leon, who is in the agriculture class, she took first place for the junior floriculture wildflower mixed division. She and Lauritzen sat and talked about ideas and the plants she should use and ordered the flowers to make an arrangement. It took three hours during her class period. This was the first year for the floral arrangement; however, last year the class did some projects with floriculture, Leon said. They are judged as individuals, and the title of her flower project is “Wild About Wildflowers.”

Leon, who was in FFA last year, joined FFA because she likes flowers. In FFA she has learned how to put flower arrangements together, and know the different flowers for each season, she said.

Sandoval also participated in the mixed division where she made a floral arrangement in a vase with daisies and took second place. Sandoval said Leon had a passion for FFA and wanted to create a team, so she encouraged her to join.

“I like it because it’s fun and brings out my fun and creative side,” Sandoval said.

There aren’t too many members in FFA, so she wants kids who are interested in agriculture to join and recognize their potential, she said.

The FFA booth at the county fair was a fundraiser for the program. Students sold sodas, water, hot dogs and hamburgers to gain customer service and communication skills. Lauritzen, who is a student teacher and majors in agricultural education at NMSU, said both of her parents are agriculture teachers,

“I have never found anything so versatile. It (FFA) helps kids branch out also in welding and mechanics, also with landscaping. With kids involvement in what they know about,” Lauritzen said.

This is Gains’ second year as an agriculture teacher. He graduated from Socorro High School and had an interest in a school with a green house. He said he wants the kids to learn how to propagate plants in the floral business with a farming career, to see what opportunities that are available to the children and attend college for a good living.

“It’s really rewarding. I wanted to teach it. I had to learn farming and business since I didn’t grow up with agriculture,” Gains said. “The challenge at the school is that there is not enough money for supplies, materials or finances and it is hard with hands-on projects. (FFA) is a neat thing, the whole deal has potential,” he said.