National FFA Month. . . Park River FFA still going strong
PRHS has only chapter in county
As The National FFA Organization celebrates National FFA Month across the country in February, the chapter in Park River has much to be proud of. One of the first chapters to organize in the state of North Dakota when it was the Walsh County Agricultural School more than 75 years ago, it is now the only chapter in the county, boasts a membership of 24 students and an active itinerary the entire school year.
The national organization was founded by a group of young farmers in 1928 as the “Future Farmers of America” (FFA) with a mission to prepare future generations for meeting the challenges of feeding a growing population. The focus was not only on planting and harvesting, but on the science, business and art of farming.
As farming evolved, so did the organization, striving to meet challenges of the industry by helping members develop unique talents and explore a broad range of career pathways related to agriculture. In 1988, the official name of FFA was changed to The National FFA Organization to reflect the growing diversity of agriculture. FFA is still ag-focused, but also brings a level of leadership and communication skills to its membership.
According to Brent Arndt, the ag/shop instructor at Park River and FFA chapter advisor, the organization that was once dominated by the male gender now has as many females involved as males and many of those members have never lived on a farm.
“I would say only a quarter of the students have farming backgrounds, most are city kids,” he remarked. “The different activities, competitions and travel attract them to FFA. It’s more about leadership than farming.”
Today, FFA members learn life skills that enhance communication and leadership abilities, personal growth and future career success. They still participate in traditional farming activities like crops and animal judging, but they also learn about public speaking and participate in career development events. According to chapter sentinel, Joseph Frausto, that is what attracts a large percentage of the members to the local chapter. A city kid, he joined FFA because his best friend was a member and enjoyed it. Being a member has piqued his interest in politics and law.