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FFA has busy fall season

It’s been a busy season for the Cumberland High School (CHS) FFA.

On Sept. 23, Cumberland FFA officers attended the COLT officer leadership conference at Dinwiddie High School. It was students’ first time attending this conference, and officers had a great time interacting with the other FFA chapters, sharing ideas and developing their leadership skills. Students brought back many great ideas and built relationships that will help to improve the local chapter and continue growing FFA at Cumberland High School.

The first week of October was mental health awareness week at CHS. The Cumberland FFA Chapter wanted to bring awareness to the growing mental health problem in young people and decided to make available pamphlets and information for students. This information included magnets, pamphlets, books and other useful resources geared towards suicide and mental health prevention and awareness. All week long, the CHS FFA set up a booth operated by FFA members and allowed Cumberland students free access to these resources. Joshua Fleenor, the agriculture advisor for CHS FFA, is one of the producer members that helped start the Farmers Stress Task Force in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and is a strong advocate for mental health awareness in the agriculture community. The CHS FFA recognizes that each year, more and more students across the nation struggle with their mental health, and the group wanted to be sure that students understood that they were not alone and there is help out there. Fleenor always tells his students and FFA members to “never suffer in silence.” Ultimately, this was the message the CHS FFA wanted to impart to the rest of the CHS student body.

CHS FFA also competed at the state fair forestry field day. For many students, this was the first time they competed in this event. CHS FFA members competed in the log toss, cross-cut saw, bow saw, log roll and water accuracy events. Students who attended were Celest Mitchell (11th), Sarah Jackson (11th), Steven Vande-Sande (9th), David Smith (11th), Austin Cox (10th), Shawn Barden (9th), Sophia Crespo (10th), Tucker Krouse (8th), Tucker Bowman (8th), Bailey Robinson (8th), John David Mitchell (8th), Jolene Mitchelle (8th), Cole Bryant (8th) and Ethan Bernier (8th).

CHS FFA in partnership with Delma’s Kids has been hosting a community Farmer’s Market every third Saturday of the month at the CHS greenhouse. This event is designed to teach young people entrepreneur skills and develop relationships with the community. Students sell items they have raised in the school greenhouse or projects and hobbies they have created in the classroom and out of the classroom. This event has been an effective way of developing students’ business skills and allowing students to generate funds to offset the cost of trips to The FFA National Convention, State Fair, State Convention and a larger trip for 2023 to Costa Rica. CHS FFA students will travel to Costa Rica in 2023 to spend 5 days exploring agriculture production and methods and how they differ from those that are used in our local and national areas. The next market will be Nov. 20 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the CHS greenhouse/Middle School loop.

CHS FFA was also recognized at the Virginia FFA State Convention in July as a Gold Rated Superior Chapter. The Superior Chapter award was only awarded to 32 FFA chapters throughout the state. CHS FFA is working diligently this year to obtain a national chapter award and has developed a full program of activities for the school year 2021-2022. This includes a farm safety field day, multiple CDE events, Mental Health Awareness, COLT conference, State Convention, National Convention, wreath making workshop, ag literacy (reading to elementary school kids), fruit and nut sales, Mum Sale, spring plant sale, Ag Olympics and many more. A total of 24 major chapter events have been scheduled for the up and coming school year. Chapter President Sarah Jackson was also awarded her State Degree at the Virginia State Convention. The members who attended were Johnna Stevens (secretary), Celeste Mitchell (vice president), Jackson and David Smith. All members in attendance also competed in a CDE event while at the State Convention.