Making Hay
Week of February 23rd, 2003 | The weather was pretty nice. Temperatures dropped on weekend.

The FFA emblem

The FFA emblem

Hello everyone! It was a pretty nice week and almost all of the snow melted away. Temperatures dropped towards the end of the week, though. It also was the 75th annual National FFA Week.

National FFA Week was from February 15-22. FFA use to stand for Future Farmers of America, but now, it is just called FFA since the organization is not only for farmers, but also for non-farmers. FFA is a nation wide organization where there are chapters throughout many parts of each state.

In the early 1920's, Virginia formed a Future Farmers club for boys in agriculture classes. This innovation caught fire across the country and the national organization was established in 1928 at the Baltimore Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri. This year is a very special one because FFA is celebrating its 75th anniversary. By 1934, the only states that had not chartered associations were Rhode Island and Alaska. The National FFA Center is located in Indianapolis, Indiana.

In the picture above, you can see the official FFA emblem. The different parts of the emblem and what they stand for are:

  • The cross section of the ear of corn (the outside) provides the foundation of the emblem, just as corn has historically served as the foundation crop of American agriculture. It is also a symbol of unity, as corn is grown in every state of the nation.
  • The rising sun signifies progress and holds a promise that tomorrow will bring a new day glowing with opportunity.
  • The plow signifies labor and tillage of the soil, the backbone of agriculture and the historic foundation of our country's strength.
  • The eagle is a national symbol that serves as a reminder of our freedom and ability to explore new horizons for the future of agriculture.
  • The owl, long recognized for its wisdom, symbolizes the knowledge required to be successful in the industry of agriculture.
  • The words "Agriculture Education" and "FFA" are emblazoned in the center to signify the combination of learning and leadership necessary for progressive agriculture.

There are different offices for an official FFA chapter meeting. At the meeting, each office has a sign, or the paraphernalia. Here are the different signs and what they mean:

  • President- rising sun: "The rising sun is the token of a new era in agriculture. If we will follow the leadership of our president, we shall be led out of the darkness of selfishness and into the glorious sunlight of brotherhood and cooperation."
  • Vice President- plow: "The plow is the symbol of labor and tillage of the soil. Without labor, neither knowledge nor wisdom can accomplish much. My duties require me to assist at all times in directing the work of our organization. I preside over meetings in the absence of our president, whose place is beneath the rising sun."
  • Secretary- ear of corn: "I keep an accurate record of all meetings and correspond with other secretaries wherever corn is grown and FFA members meet."
  • Treasurer- bust of Washington: "I keep a record of receipts and disbursements just as Washington kept his farm accounts-carefully and accurately. I encourage thrift among the members and strive to build up our financial standing through savings and investments. George Washington was better able to serve his country because he was financially independent."
  • Reporter- American flag: "As the flag covers the United States of America, so I strive to inform the people in order that every man, woman and child may know that the FFA is a national organization that reaches from the state of Alaska to Puerto Rico and from the state of Maine to Hawaii."
  • Advisor- owl: "The owl is a time honored emblem of knowledge and wisdom. Being older than the rest of you, I am asked to advise you from time to time, as the need arises. I hope that my advice will always be based on true knowledge and ripened with wisdom."
  • Sentinel- shield of friendship: "Through this door pass many friends of the FFA. It is my duty to see that the door is open to our friends at all times and that they are welcome. I care for the meeting room and paraphernalia. I strive to keep the room comfortable and assist the president in maintaining order."

Quoted from the 2002-2003 Official FFA ManualThere are even National Presidents. There is a new President elected every year. One of the past National Presidents was from New Hampton. It's really something to think that a National FFA President was a student in the same high school that I am attending now. FFA is open to all students from grades 9-12. Dad was in the New Hampton FFA Chapter when he was in high school. Mom and Dad involved the local group by having them serve food at our past farm field tours. They were recognized in 1996 with an Honorary Chapter Degree award for their support. They continue to participate in the chapter fundraisers and Dad attends meetings with me.

Why should FFA members show up to meetings? "To practice brotherhood, honor agricultural opportunities and responsibilities, and develop those qualities of leadership which an FFA member should possess." The FFA motto is:

Learning to do, Doing to learn,Earning to live, Living to serve.(What a positive example to follow!)

Since it was National FFA Week, the New Hampton FFA Chapter that I belong to celebrated by participating in different activities. All week, we had the halls decorated with posters and a trophy case decorated with farm toys. Monday, I decorated our school bus with posters. On Tuesday, some of the members drove tractors to school. It's a tradition. I even drove one! I was not allowed to drive one of Dad's tractors because our farm is too far away. Instead, I drove one from our nearby John Deere implement. I drove a John Deere 8420 tractor. It was FUN to drive!!! On Thursday, all of the FFA members wore their official FFA jackets or shirts. I own a jacket, so that's what I wore. On Friday, a few members and I went to the elementary school to read farm books to students and show a real lamb and puppy. I had a fun National FFA Week and can't wait until next year! Some of the members, including myself, have been practicing for sub-district competition. I am involved in the Conduct of Meetings Event. This is where you conduct a meeting properly using parliamentary procedure.Throughout the week, Dad fixed the apron on the manure spreader. Remember last time we used it, the apron fell apart? He also replaced the metal that the apron runs on and the frame that supports the floor. Dad also took the beaters off since we're only hauling manure to the compost pile. On Thursday and Friday, Dad cleaned out a hoop building. On Saturday, Dad and I bedded the hoop building up with straw using the power box to do the job, but first, we lined the floor with eggshells. Eggshells form a base and we placed the straw on top of them. Afterwards, Dad and I moved 10 sows and 70 pigs out of the farrowing barns and into the hoop building.

Jess came home Saturday noon. In the afternoon, Jess and I started to build a bookshelf that she wants for her classroom. We did not get finished, though. Jolene came home Saturdayevening and made supper for Jess, Dad, and I. Mom was working. It was nice to see my sisters, even though it was a short visit. Jolene went back to campus late Saturday night and Jess went home Sunday forenoon.

I am so happy to receive responses from last week's journal on naming my pet white hen. I'm glad you're reading my journal. Many readers have e-mailed me suggesting a variety of names for my pet chicken that is totally white in color. I will decide on a name in a week or two; so you still have time to come up with a name and e-mail the idea to me! To e-mail you may use this address or just click here: jamesjournal@organicvalley.com.

Farm Fact: Iowa State University has a compost specialist. This person encouraged us to unload our manure without having it torn up by the beaters on the manure spreaders. This change in the handling method will produce better compost as it leaves the pile with more access to oxygen. It also takes less power to unload and reduces the wear on the equipment.

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