SOMONAUK – Jessica Carlson, a sophomore at Somonauk High School, has been around farming and agriculture her whole life, which is one of the reasons she joined FFA.
But many of the students involved in the organization didn’t grow up on a farm.
“That’s why I love FFA,” Carlson said. “We can learn together. I like the opportunities it gives me. It shows me that there are great jobs and careers in agriculture. There’s always so much to learn.”
Carlson is one of the 150 students in the Somonauk-Leland-Sandwich FFA program. There are more than 669,000 FFA members in 8,600 chapters across the U.S.
National FFA Week, held Feb. 16 to 23, was celebrated by the Somonauk-Leland-Sandwich FFA with a spirit week and events each day.
On Feb. 20, the FFA held its annual Ag Day Petting Zoo and agriculture booths at Somonauk High School. More than 400 students, from preschool through high school, visited the petting zoo. Animals featured this year included piglets, a 6-day-old calf, goats, rabbits, chicks, frogs and sugar gliders.
Somonauk Sophomore Sarah Remy said the petting zoo was a fun way to spend time with animals on a school day.
“It’s not every day you can pet a calf or hold a chick,” Remy said. “It’s fun to teach others about animals and get them excited about the FFA.”
Somonauk Sophomore Joshua Stokes brought his American green tree frog and Australian white tree frogs for a show-and-tell during the event.
“It’s a great opportunity to educate others about my pets,” Stokes said. “Maybe they’ll learn a little about habitats, ecosystems and the food chain, too.”
Savannah Ostrom, also a sophomore at Somonauk High, brought her rabbits to the petting zoo.
“I’ve had rabbits since I was little, and I showed my rabbits with 4-H before I was involved with FFA,” Ostrom said. “The petting zoo is a lot of fun. I remember going to it when I was in grade school. It’s a great way to teach younger students about animals.”
Other events held during Somonauk-Leland-Sandwich’s National FFA Week included dodgeball, a community breakfast, Drive Your Tractor to School Day and a lock-in with sports, games and movies.
FFA Adviser Andrea Farrier was in FFA when she was in high school and said she continues to be involved in the organization because “she loves how agriculture makes an impact on the students.”
“FFA is so much more than cows, plows and sows,” Farrier said. “We are a leadership organization with a focus on agriculture and career readiness. There are three components to our FFA program: classroom and lab, supervised ag experience and the FFA. In FFA, you learn more than a hamburger is from a cow. You learn about food science, agriculture, technology, welding and public speaking. FFA is about developing skills. It’s more than just farming.”
For information about FFA, visit www.ffa.org.