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September 1, 2013

Roy Hart student pursuing FFA's return

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — MIDDLEPORT — Years ago, the Royalton-Hartland Central School District had an FFA chapter. Thanks to the efforts of one student, who has the support of a number of staff members and the school board, the district is considering restarting that chapter.

“A few years ago some friends of mine and I were in study hall and decided to try to restart it,” incoming senior Zack Blackburn said. “We talked to the principal and the superintendent, and then we talked to the guidance counselor. She looked into it for us.”

Blackburn spoke to the Roy-Hart School Board last week about the possibility of a restarted FFA (Future Farmers of America) chapter. By this past spring, supporters had done enough leg work that they were ready to file an application, but the school year was nearly over, he said.

Diane O’Rourke, school counselor, said FFA requirements call for elective agriculture education in the school curriculum. Several courses are already offered in the district that would meet that criteria, she said.

Blackburn said he attended Medina-chapter FFA meetings during the 2012-13 school year, and noted that a number of meetings with fellow Roy-Hart students were held, some with as many as 26 students attending.

The advantages of an FFA chapter at Roy-Hart would be immeasurable, Blackburn said.

“Having a chapter with an ag ed teacher would teach about animals, heavy equipment and leadership skills, and there are also (college) scholarships available,” he said.

If Roy-Hart is unable to support an FFA chapter on its own, Blackburn suggested, it could explore partnering with Medina, or recruiting Barker High School to form a chapter with it. Working with BOCES to add an ag-ed instructor could improve the school’s chances too, he added.

The board praised Blackburn’s efforts. Board President Patricia Riegle injected a note of caution, however, noting that FFA is a national program and Roy-Hart would have to meet a host of criteria before it’s eligible to have a chapter again.

“Over the years, this fell off the radar here. Like most things that are worthwhile, this will take some time,” she said.

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