Japanese farmer and philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka once said, “The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”
Lone Pine High School’s Future Farmers of America program has been cultivating fine young adults for the past 19 years.
In a continuing show of support for the efforts of both the program and its students, dozens of community members turned out for the March 8 FFA Blue & Gold Fundraiser at the Lone Pine Film History Museum.
According to FFA Advisor Brenda Lacey, the fundraiser was an overwhelming success – bringing in more than $18,000 in much-needed funds for the program.
Lacey offered thanks to Indian Wells Brewery, Mammoth Brewery, Hearst Ranch Winery, Cowboy Flavor, Lacey Livestock, Bob Stockman and Best Western Frontier Motel. These businesses and individuals provided the food, drink, entertainment and special guest lodgings to make this event possible and profitable for the FFA Program at Lone Pine High School, Lacey said.
Lone Pine’s FFA program was started in 1994 by high school biology teacher Irene Kritz, and had 28 students.
Fourteen years and several teachers later, in 2008, Lacey, an Independence resident, began working as the FFA advisor. At the time, the FFA had only 20 students, but under Lacey’s leadership that number is now 95 students and that is out of a total student population of 110.
Three instructors provide the program to the students: Lacey teaches Introduction to Agriculture, Agriculture Business and Animal Science; Chuck Carson teaches five periods of Agriculture Mechanics; and Joel Whitney teaches Agriculture Construction.
The FFA program includes classroom instruction, leadership and a Supervised Agriculture Experience Project such as raising a market animal and employment in agriculture. The students enjoy hands-on learning. “Even if they are not going into the field of agriculture,” said Lacey, “It is important for them to realize where their food comes from, and how the farmers and ranchers in America, especially in California, feed the world.”
Agriculture is the number one industry in the nation and in the state. Students, especially those at Lone Pine High School, are drawn to the program because it gives them the opportunity to have hands-on learning, leadership and travel that they otherwise would never experience in any other program in the nation, Lacey explained.
The FFA theme for 2013 is “Steer” towards Careers in Animal Science. The focus of the program is a curriculum that includes classes in science, technology and engineering, which promote the development of critical thinking skills needed in modern agriculture, while fostering an appreciation for the opportunities available in livestock production.
FFA, Lacey noted, is as much about building character as it is in growing plants from the soil or raising livestock. That the Lone Pine FFA is successful in doing so is seen in the overwhelming number of high school students in the program, according to community members. A good measure of that success was the large number of residents who traveled from all parts of the county to show their support on March 8.