Rockingham County FFA students organize fundraiser to help peers interested in Agriculture

FFA students are organizing a dinner to raise money to help more students in Rockingham County have the chance to compete at FFA conventions.
Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 11:28 AM EDT
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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - On Monday, April 3, Rockingham County Future Farmers of America students will be hosting a Heritage Dinner at Friedens Farm.

The money raised from the event will be put in the Rockingham Agriculture Heritage Fund, which helps give FFA students across the entire county the opportunity to compete at state and national conventions. These conventions give students the chance to show off the many skillsets they’ve learned from FFA through Career Development Events and Leadership Development Events.

Katie Payne, a junior at Broadway High School, and the President of the Rockingham Federation FFA, said she knew she wanted to be involved with FFA at a young age.

“It was a huge part of my family and how we were brought up and everything. My mom was in FFA, my dad was in FFA, and they really encouraged it on me and my siblings,” she said.

FFA teaches students all about different aspects of agriculture, from leadership and business to science and technology. It aims to prepare students for the real world.

“Be able to learn from different things, learn from different people, watch different people lead, and then be able to take that and become the best version of myself when it comes to a leadership standpoint,” Payne said.

Aside from the education, Kara Wood, who is also a junior at Broadway High School and serves as the Rockingham County Federation’s FFA Treasurer, explained how the organization gave her a sense of community.

“Feeling like I belong... I started FFA, and I thought I would be this outcasted kid because I didn’t start early, I didn’t know as much as all these other kids did. I ended up being so welcomed,” Wood said.

The USDA reports thousands of farms were lost over the last year making it more important than ever for young people to get involved and understand the importance of agriculture.

“Agriculture is the backbone of everybody’s everyday lifestyle. Without it, we wouldn’t be anywhere. You wouldn’t have food on your table, you wouldn’t have clothes on your back,” Payne said.

Payne and Wood work together to find ways to get their peers excited about agriculture.

“It’s not just one of the things that feels like a chore, like you have to show up for ag, you have to be there for competition. It’s something that they can come enjoy and have that sense of community with their friends who are also interested in the same things that they are in agriculture,” Wood said.

They even go beyond the walls of Broadway High School to try to appeal to a younger age group.

“We go out to our local elementary schools in the Broadway area, speak to them and talk to them about different things: pollinators, farm safety, farm to table, wildlife management, forestry, all the different components of agriculture and get them to learn but do it in a fun way,” Payne said.

Payne and Wood hope that with events like the Heritage Dinner, they can help peers in other areas of the county learn more about agriculture and build the foundation for a successful future no matter their career path.

Students from Turner Ashby High School will be making and providing the meal for the evening. There will also be an auction.

“Seeing it come together, and especially when we go see the venue and to see all of the people there, it’s going to be the most exciting thing,” Wood said. “The other exciting thing is the fact that I get to be a part of it, and that just makes me feel really, really good.”

The Heritage Dinner is sold out, but you can still donate to the Rockingham Agriculture Heritage Fund.