Helping Communities Grow 2012-2013 Winners and Project Summaries

January 17, 2014 | 9:01 am

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The Helping Communities Grow outreach program is administered by the Nutrients for Life Foundation and is offered to FFA chapters. The Helping Communities Grow award program encourages FFA members to teach others about the importance of fertilizer and the role that it plays in one of two categories:  1) providing a safe and nourishing food supply; or 2) keeping the Earth green.

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In 2013, seventy-four FFA chapters were awarded for creating hands-on innovative programs to educate and engage their community on plant nutrition, fertilizer, soil science and crop related agricultural issues and the positive and critical role they play in food production. The top three chapters in each state and in the At-Large category received monetary awards of $5,000, $3,000, and $1,000 for first, second and third place. All other participants were awarded $500.

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“I am so impressed with the quality of projects we received in our Helping Communities Grow FFA chapter recognition program,” said Nutrients for Life Foundation Executive Director Harriet Wegmeyer. “It gives us great honor to award these checks to such deserving students. Not only did they educate fellow students and their communities about the important value of fertilizer, they expanded their leadership ability, communication skills and knowledge base during the year-long projects.”  

 

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At-Large

First Place: Plateau Valley FFA, Colorado

The Plateau Valley FFA members conducted an experiment on lettuce by studying how different types and rates of fertilizers effect plant growth. As a result, they learned soil type and quality had a large influence on their ability to grow the lettuce. Their experiment was conducted on growing stands they constructed out of wood and PVC pipe.  FFA members reported that the most rewarding part of the project was serving lettuce to community members at their annual FFA banquet and knowing it was FFA grown.

Second Place: Mansfield FFA, Arkansas

The Mansfield FFA chapter collaborated with their Cooperative Extension Office to host a series of garden workshops. “The most rewarding aspect of the program was teaching students that, just like them, plants need the right nutrients to grow healthy and strong. Watching students make the connection between proper techniques and healthier produce was very rewarding,” said Rhianna Wagner, Mansfield FFA Advisor. Workshops focused on plant disorders, nutrient deficiencies, fertilizer calculations and soil testing. All lessons gave community members and students information that allowed them greater access to fresh produce. FFA members took one more step in assisting the community by creating and distributing a cookbook on how to prepare fresh vegetables.

Third Place:  Boulder CTEC FFA, Colorado

The Boulder CTEC FFA chapter organized and presented the “Our Lands to Your Hands” day. Three hundred and fifty elementary school students from three different schools participated. Students rotated through different stations where they explored the Seed Survivor Mobile, mixed soil, planted seeds, climbed through farm equipment, competed in cereal grain relay races, made bread and learned about different Colorado crops. Through this interactive day, FFA members used their leadership and communication skills to teach the value of agriculture in their daily lives from the food they eat to the clothing they wear.

 

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Arizona

First Place: Chandler FFA

The Chandler FFA chapter earned first place honors for using their education and leadership skills to reach over three-thousand elementary school students, garden club members and community citizens. They hosted a soil science booth where students studied the texture of soils and learned about soil micro and macronutrients.  Chandler FFA members expanded the local garden club area to include twenty-four garden plots. Another fun aspect of their project was the creation of a video about irrigation for Arizona gardeners.  These activities were avenues for the FFA members to educate and create dialogue about the importance of crop nutrients and soil science in food production.

Second Place: Douglas FFA

The Douglas FFA chapter led a workshop that taught community members the importance of soil testing and how to grow onions. During the workshop, participants helped the FFA members build a twenty by sixty-foot garden. FFA members also conducted a research project on onions that compared the effectiveness of commercial fertilizer and organic fertilizer. The science component helped the students and community members realize the importance of nutrients for a safe and abundant food supply for our growing population.

Third Place: Buckeye FFA

The Buckeye FFA chapter hosted “Second Grade Ag Day,” where FFA members held four workshops that provided a hands-on experience that taught about fertilizer, air quality, water quality and wildlife. With emphasis on keeping the Earth green, they were able to demonstrate how preservation and conservation are tied to agriculture.

 

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California

First Place: Hughson FFA

The Hughson FFA partnered with the Hughson Garden Club and local agricultural industry leaders to provide FFA members the opportunity to lead agricultural educational activities in their community and schools. FFA members led “Walking Field Trips” with elementary school students where they were able to apply lessons learned in the classroom. With the harvest from their school garden, FFA members encouraged their peers to try new vegetables. During this harvest feast, students learned about the nutritional value of fresh produce. They also created displays and presentation for the Hughson Garden Club that encouraged good nutrition as a lifestyle choice. The culminating event for the FFA chapter was the “Hughson Ag Day” that focused on creating agricultural awareness in regards to the role nutrients play in nourishing our world.

 Second Place: Norco FFA

The Norco FFA partnered with community sponsors, the graphic art class, the language art class, the horticulture class and the mechanics class, to build ten rustic looking garden carts. These garden carts were distributed to elementary classrooms with the Nutrients for Life Foundation curriculum, “Nourishing the Planet in the 21st Century.” The curriculum provided teachers hands-on soil science lessons that could be completed in the garden. Over three hundred elementary students learned about the importance of agriculture and the role nutrients play in food production.

 Third Place: East Union FFA

The East Union FFA members created a poster that depicted the importance of fertilizer, the different nutrients in food, and connections to the food that we eat. Through four different community events, FFA members presented their poster and taught over four thousand youth how to plant a seed properly. In a fun and memorable way, the East Union FFA members successfully created awareness about the importance of crop nutrients in feeding our growing world.

 

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Florida

First Place: Eisenhower Middle FFA of Gibsonton, FL

The Eisenhower Middle FFA members learned about the importance of soil nutrients in the classroom and then applied it in the garden where science based elements were used to produce healthy food and allow the student to study soil chemistry.  They created games and posters to teach community members and other students about soil nutrients. The chapter established relationships with the extension service, educators at the University of Florida, the Gulf Coast Research Center and the Department of Education. The remarkable outreach, research, and collaboration in this project will provide a science-based model for future FFA members.

Second Place: Fort Kind Middle FFA of Ocala, FL

The Fort King Middle FFA chapter promoted the role of plants, trees, and fertilizer in their community through a forestry project. They planted and distributed over three hundred and seventy-five trees of five different varieties. During this project, students and community members learned about the food chain, ecosystems, and the role of fertilizer in plant growth and development. FFA members also created an educational booth at the Master Gardener festival. The exhibit focused on keeping the earth green through the proper use of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium nutrients.

Third Place: Fort White FFA of Fort White, FL

Fort White FFA Chapter focused on plant nutrients and water to achieve food sustainability. The chapter conducted three different field experiments. The first experiment compared two different fertilizer systems in sandy soil. The second experiment demonstrated raising lettuce using natural fertilization and the last experiment compared raising mustard greens in aquaponic versus standard hydroponic solutions. Utilizing comparative methods, students demonstrated the importance of feeding a growing population and community with sound science. FFA members also initiated a farm to school concept for the school cafeteria and invited the community in for field days and tours.

 

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Idaho

First Place: Hanson FFA

The Hanson FFA set a goal to educate their small community about fertilizer and its importance in feeding the world. To reach community members, they met them where they eat, and designed and distributed placemats with the theme “Fertilizer Fills Your Plate.” These placemats were used at restaurants around town and generated discussion about the importance of fertilizer in growing the food we eat. Using their leadership and creativity FFA members designed an advertisement that was used at the bowling alley for six months and created a YouTube video called, “Corn and Wheat” depicting the importance of fertilizer. The culminating event for the FFA chapter was their third annual “Fertilizer Education Day” where they were able to create awareness of the necessity of fertilizer in nourishing our world.

Second Place: New Plymouth FFA

The New Plymouth FFA Plymouth FFA members began their Helping Communities Grow project by diving into the science behind plant nutrients, fertilizer, and their importance in feeding the world. They took their new knowledge and created three lessons that the New Plymouth FFA members presented to fourth and fifth graders.  The lessons focused on soil nutrients, seed germination and fertilizer. Elementary students learned about plant anatomy and about how nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are key nutrients that all plants need for healthy growth. Students also observed soil separation that showed the different characteristics of soil and the role of air and space in soil. The last lesson combined the two previous lessons to show how nutrients and water move to the roots and throughout the plant. Overall, this project was a great educational experience for the FFA members and the elementary students in New Plymouth.

Third Place: Malad FFA

To reach their community, the Malad FFA members used the marquee sign on the four way stop in town to educate people about agriculture and its importance in their lives. They also lead the “Feeding Yourself” garden seminar that taught others how to grow their own healthy nutritious food. The Malad FFA members also increased agriculture awareness in the elementary school. The FFA members wrote storybooks, created bulletin boards and hosted an elementary day that reached over four-hundred students.

 

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Illinois

First Place: Freeport FFA

The Freeport FFA chapter connected with the local community through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. With help from the Nutrients for Life curriculum, students spent three months learning the science of growing food and planning their own community vegetable farm.  Members from the Freeport FFA were guided by a crop specialist and local agricultural businesses to learn the basics of soil testing and nutrient management. These partnerships proved to be a valuable asset before planting began.  Shares from the CSA sold instantly and a new class for the fall was added to maintain this new venture.

Second Place: Oakland FFA

The Oakland FFA chapter created awareness about the role proper Best Management Practices and the 4R Nutrient Stewardship principles (Right Source, Right Rate, Right Place, Right Time) play in water quality.  Students tested local rivers and presented their findings to local farmers, as well as their local CPS agency representatives during an informational breakfast given by the FFA students.  All students in grades K-12 were reached during their FFA week “Open House” and students demonstrated the importance of proper soil nutrition in food production during the school’s “Garden Party.”

Third Place: Annawan FFA

The Annawan FFA chapter made presentations to their local community and Kiwanis club. They demonstrated the importance of fertilizers and how the use of water and nutrients can grow food 24-7 in limited space in a cost effective way.  By experimenting with tower gardens to grow fruits and vegetables, students learned they are able to grow their own food with water, light, and the right amounts of nutrients.

 

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Iowa

First Place: North-Linn FFA

North-Linn FFA taught students and teachers about aeroponics, growing plants without using a growing medium, such as soil.  The crops grown by the North-Linn FFA members were harvested and used in the school’s Food and Consumer Science class. Successfully growing these crops required FFA members to continually recirculate the water supply. Recirculating the water is an effective way to maximize water use and the intake of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, essential nutrients for plant growth and development.  The chapter plans to share what they have learned with an additional 1,300 students in their school.

Second Place: West Liberty FFA

The West Liberty FFA chapter conducted five educational activities in their elementary school and community on the role nutrients play in soil and ultimately plant production.  Through their educational outreach efforts, West Liberty FFA members were able demonstrate why soil is one of the world’s most valuable assets.  The chapter also purchased ten earth boxes for FFA members. They applied what they learned about crop nutrients when as they grew vegetables in their own personal earth boxes.

Third Place: Midland FFA

Midland FFA members designed posters that were placed around the seven communities that make up their school district. The posters included the five statements everyone should know about nutrients and fertilizer. Chapter members also put together a curriculum to teach third graders about the importance of soil nutrients. They developed a packet and hands-on activities to present this information.

 

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Kansas

First Place: Chapman FFA

Chapman FFA partnered with twelve community leaders and the local Co-op to provide forty-two elementary students a hands-on plant nutrient day. During the “Helping Our Community Grow” activity students learned to distinguish between fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides. Being able to give each elementary school student the opportunity to plant their own garden and enough basic information to make it possible, was extremely rewarding

Second Place: Southeast of Saline FFA, Gypsum, KS

The Southeast of Saline FFA chapter developed a month-long plant based curriculum for the iRead first grader program. FFA members learned more about soil and crop nutrients from their partnership with Nature’s Release fertilizer company. From this partnership, members created a marketing plan for the company. They applied their knowledge when they took soil samples from the football field and made recommendations to the school administration on how to maintain the field throughout the year.

Third Place: Inman FFA

The Inman FFA chapter learned about nutrient management when they grew vegetables in their greenhouse and community garden. With this nutrient knowledge, they made pizza with the elementary students and talked about the food groups and why making healthy choices is important to overall health. Growing their own food is a great way to change nutritional habits. Elementary students were given tomato plants and the FFA members taught them about plant and soil health. The 4R Nutrient Stewardship model was taught as a way of growing healthy plants.

 

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Ohio

First Place: OHP Kenton FFA

OHP Kenton FFA member, Morgan Latham, responded to their first place award with the following comment of gratitude, “We would like to thank everyone in the community for helping us achieve the grant.  Also a special thanks to the Nutrients for Life Foundation for giving us the opportunity to help us grow our community.” With Morgan’s leadership, the FFA chapter led hands-on soil science lessons for 600 third and fifth graders that included a trip to their land lab and show case display. They also installed raised garden beds at the local homeless shelter. Utilizing radio, newspaper and field signs, members shared the five fertilizer facts and how nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are helping farmers nourish our world with a safe and abundant food supply.

Second Place: Ridgemont FFA

The Ridgemont FFA chapter utilized the Nutrients for Life Foundation curriculum to engage FFA members in service-leaning projects linked to agriculture. For example, FFA members hosted a hunger banquet with fifth graders to demonstrate food insecurity. The students were empowered to take action by utilizing their understanding of plant fertilizers and nutrients. As a result, they planned a hunger walk and community garden at the local homeless shelter. Additionally, during Nourishing the World Agriculture Days, FFA members utilized the Nutrients for Life Foundation materials and taugh more than 850 students, teachers, and community members about soil and nourishing the planet in the 21st century.

Third Place: Peebles FFA

The Peebles FFA chapter built and incorporated raised beds around their school. Management of soil nutrients was critical, as their goal was to provide fresh produce to the school cafeteria every day for two months. Students got their hands dirty when they started seeds for the garden in their FFA greenhouse. From seed to plate, students witnessed the entire life cycle of a plant; a lesson in agriculture made memorable with produce grown and harvested by their own labor. Ag students extended their learning by conducting nutrition education sessions for 600 high school students. This is an educational project that benefited not only the Peebles FFA members, but the entire Peebles High School student body.

 

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Washington

First Place: Colfax FFA

The Colfax FFA members used their annual Ag Day to immerse more than 300 elementary students into the world of environmentalism and the role nutrients play in keeping our planet green. Colfax FFA members prepared and delivered a series of interconnected, interactive presentations to elementary students. The topics of Ag Day focused on the environment, ecosystems, pollution, and the 4R’s of nutrient management. With creativity at its finest, the FFA members wrote a sequel to “The Lorax” and used it to help the elementary students engage in the topics in a fun and educational way. They also created a coloring book that depicts how the land, water and air are returned to health with the help of fertilizers and the use of the 4R’s. Brian Long, Colfax FFA chapter Advisor said, “One of the most rewarding elements of this project was that our FFA members used their education and leadership skills to present the importance of agriculture in a fun and educational way. The final product was outstanding. I am very proud of their efforts.”

Second Place: Pomeroy FFA

Participating in the Helping Communities Grow program challenged the Pomeroy FFA members to go out and teach others about agriculture. They chose to present four hands-on lessons to second and fifth grade Pomeroy elementary students. Elementary students rotated through stations that focused on the importance of plant nutrients, how plants use water and fertilizer, soil characteristics, and life on the farm. By teaching the elementary students, the FFA members were better able to learn the material, which makes them better advocates for agriculture by understanding the science behind it.

Third Place: Rosalia FFA

The Rosalia FFA, used tomato plants to teach first graders the importance of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium for plant growth. Each first grader was given a tomato plant that had been planted in nutrient rich soil and the teacher was given a tomato plant that had been planted in nutrient deficient soil. As the plants grew, it was obvious there was a difference between the student’s tomato and that of the teacher.  Growth rate, size and color were all different, thus the students got to see the importance of proper soil nutrients.

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