Helping Communities Grow Program Honors Outstanding FFA Chapters

January 12, 2012 | 1:01 pm

Bronson High School FFA was the repeat winner in Florida.

I believe in the future of agriculture…” begins the creed of the National FFA Organization. Memorizing the FFA creed was one of the very first things I completed as a freshman in agriculture science class. Twenty-some-odd years later (you didn’t think I would give away my age, did you?), I still believe in the future of agricultural and the National FFA Organization. Today, there are 540,379 FFA members, in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

I am where I am today, because of my education and experience as a high school FFA member. It provided me a first rate agriculture education, and access to careers in the field. High school agricultural education students “learn by doing” and are exposed to an innovative, ever-changing industry.

At Nutrients for Life, we know the value of a sound education. We also believe in the future of agriculture and are investing our resources in the youths who will be leading our industry.

FFA chapters in California, Florida, Idaho and Iowa competed in the Nutrients for Life Foundation’s Helping Communities Grow program during the 2010-2011 school year. Students in participating FFA chapters developed and executed community-based education programs based upon the Nutrients for Life Foundation curriculum, Nourishing the Planet in the 21st Century. The program encouraged FFA students to help the public become better informed about plant nutrients and related agricultural issues. During the project, students gained skills in leadership, public speaking, team building and community awareness while increasing knowledge of soil science and agricultural issues. During the present school year (2011-2012), Ohio and Washington FFA chapters are eligible to participate in the program.

“Hands-on activities help students dig deeper into each lesson,” Nutrients for Life Foundation Executive Director Harriet Wegmeyer said. “The FFA chapters who earned these awards learned about the importance of fertilizers in the cycle of life and they inspired others around them to learn as well.”

In each state, FFA chapter projects, are judged and awarded in the following manner:

Grand Prize           $5000

Second Place        $3000

Third Place            $1000

Participation           $500 for every chapter with a completed project

I am proud to share with you what the FFA chapters completed last year through this program. You will read how they are preparing for a future in agriculture!


Buena Park High School’s FFA Chapter won first place with a powerful project that brought the fundamentals of gardening to an urban low-income community. Middle school students learned about places and ways to grow food and increase production with nutrients and fertilizer.

Le Grand FFA members centered their education efforts on a community garden. Chapter members worked with the local garden club and the Master Gardeners on planting and garden design.  Le Grand locals will enjoy the fruits of the FFA’s labor in this beautiful garden for years to come.

El Capitan FFA in Lakeside, Calif., won third place with its efforts to produce quality oat hay, which is used by local horse ranches and feed stores.

Nutrients for Life blogger, Dee McKenna, in her FFA jacket her freshman year of college.


Bronson High School’s FFA Chapter was the first place winner of a $6,000 grant for the second year in a row. The Bronson Senior High Chapter’s winning program featured multiple activities that made a great impact on the local community.  Students got busy with school gardens, teaching 41 high school agriculture students and 90 fourth-grade elementary students about plant nutrients and fertilizers, and a wall mural tribute to the late Dr. Norman Borlaug, the father of the Green Revolution.

In second place, students in award-winning Dixie County High School in Cross City, Fla., educated faculty members and parents about agricultural Best Management Plans designed to improve nutrient use efficiency and crop yields, while protecting water quality. In this sophisticated project, the FFA students described the 4R Nutrient Stewardship principles (Right Source, Right Rate, Right Place, and Right Time) with the Dixie Soil and Water Conservation District. They also taught second graders and 10th grade biology classes about plant uptake of fertilizers.

In Zephryhills, Fla., FFA students at RB Stewart Middle School earned third place with their study of the nutritional needs of plants, the effect of fertilizers on plant growth and crop yield in hydroponic systems, which also imparted lessons about meeting the world’s food demands while conserving land.


Hansen FFA in Hansen, Idaho, repeated as first-place winners with its eye-catching educational highway billboard and Fertilizer Education Day held in conjunction with Arbor Day. During the Arbor Day celebration, FFA students spread the word on fighting world hunger through fertilizer and gave informative presentations on gardening.

Malad FFA members’ second place project focused on educating middle school students about plant nutrients, how plants take in and use nutrients, as well as sharing with elementary students the role of plants as a means to feed the world.  Additionally, the FFA chapter hosted a community gardening day to highlight these concepts to the younger students.

Cambridge FFA took home third place honors by teaching fertilizer education lessons to elementary students in conjunction with the school greenhouse. FFA members studied plant nutrition throughout the year, using various types of crops, fertilizers and testing procedures.


North Linn FFA Chapter in Tory Mills, Iowa, won top honors with an innovative project that incorporated technology with food production and agriculture.  Student used aeroponic chambers to growing over 200 plants in less than 8 square feet.  This innovative technique could easily lend itself to areas with few agricultural space options.

Harlan FFA members learned about vegetable plant varieties, how to plant seeds and about proper fertilizer techniques for maximum production results. Students experimented with different fertilizers and learned about their importance, as well as completing the Nourishing the Planet in the 21st Century curriculum.

Oelwein High School FFA members organized a community event to raise awareness about Nutrients for Life and the agricultural industry.

Two FFA students from Hansen, Idaho make a presentation on their Helping Communities Grow project at the World Fertilizer Conference in Chicago, IL.