FFA looks to expand with new teacher appointment

Published 8:55 am Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Austin High School is looking to expand its relationship with the Future Farmers of America (FFA) with the appointment of a new agriculture teacher.

The school plans to work closely with the FFA and the FFA Alumni to increase the program’s membership and better tailor the program for Austin students. In addition, the school is considering the possibility of adding more agriculture courses that students can use to fulfill science requirements.

According to Brad Bergstrom, Austin High School principal, the primary way the school wants to change FFA is by pushing the program of urban agriculture. The urban style emphasizes more factors in agriculture, such as plant genetics, as opposed to the FFA’s old emphasis on the specifics of farming, which often include the basics of planting and harvesting crops.

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“It’s changing like any other program and you need to adapt. There are less and less farmers out there, and the number isn’t getting any bigger,” said John Carroll, president of FFA Alumni. “Instead, let’s prepare these kids for the real world.”

The new method will make the FFA closer to programs like the Boy Scouts or 4-H, said Bergstrom.

The new emphasis on the FFA is spurred by the selection of Josh Dumas, an Austin High School biology teacher, for the position of agriculture teacher and FFA advisor. According to Bergstrom, Dumas was selected for his enthusiasm in teaching about agriculture.

“The position opened up and I have always been interested in plants and animals, so it was a natural fit for me to take over,” said Dumas.

Bergstrom and Carroll both hope that Dumas’ energy and teaching abilities will help increase FFA membership.

“With any activity, one of the keys is having the right person in the right place. When kids see someone who is genuinely interested in the subject, that interest will rub off on them,” said Bergstrom. “ He can really encourage kids to be a part of the class.”

Austin High School currently offers two agriculture courses, animal wildlife and landscaping. Dumas will begin teaching agriculture classes, in addition to his other science courses, this school year with animal wildlife in the first semester and landscaping in the second semester.

Students must be enrolled in an agriculture class or must have previously taken an agriculture class to be a member of the FFA.