WILKESBORO — Wilkes Community College is the first community college in North Carolina to offer a Collegiate Future Farmers of America (FFA) club. WCC celebrated a successful inaugural year in 2014-2015 and is now actively recruiting new members for the upcoming school year.
FFA is an extracurricular student organization for those interested in agriculture and leadership. It is one of three components of agricultural education, along with contextual learning and work-based learning. Collegiate FFA enhances the collegiate experience through service and engagement to create talented leaders, enable personal growth and ensure career success.
As the first community college in the state to establish a Collegiate FFA club, WCC joins the ranks of North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University and Mount Olive University that offer the only other collegiate chapters in the state.
“Recruiting determined and energized students for the North Carolina agriculture and agribusiness industry is crucial to the economic and environmental health of our state,” said Donna Riddle, co-advisor for the CFFA Club at WCC. “These industries account for almost one-fifth of the state’s economy and employees. And they account for more than 17 percent, or $78 billion, of the $456 billion gross state product.”
According to the N.C. Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, agriculture is a compatible industry with the military and military training, which is second in economic importance at $66 billion. And, preservation of farmland provides scenic rural landscapes for tourism, the third largest economic sector in North Carolina.
“More and more North Carolinians understand the value and are participating in the ‘grow local’ movement for its economic and environmental benefits. Colleges across the state are adapting by offering programs to educate and train skilled workers to keep pace with the growth of this movement,” said Co-advisor Mindy Herman. “For example, WCC established the Animal Science Technology program in fall 2014; Appalachian State offers the Sustainable Development: Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture program; Warren Wilson College, Environmental Studies with emphasis on Sustainable Agriculture program; and Central Carolina Community College, Sustainable Agriculture program.
“We are now planning for the upcoming year for WCC’s Animal Science program. Plans include developing collaborative community service projects with the local high school FFA programs. We will also welcome our new animal science/horticulture instructor, Victoria Cardea, who will teach on the Wilkes Campus as well as for East Wilkes High’s Career & College Promise program.”
The advisors credit Curt Miller, Student Activities coordinator, and the CFFA officer team for helping the club accomplish official status and promoting the new club to the WCC student body. The 2014-2015 officer team comprised John Latham, president; MaryMorgan Arrington; vice-president; Brittany Rugg; treasurer; Alyse Venturini, secretary and Career & College Promise student; Haley Campbell, reporter; and Emily Buckley, sentinel. Traditionally officer teams are selected in the spring but WCC will conduct the selection process in the fall in order to include incoming students.
For more information about the Collegiate FFA Club at WCC, contact Donna Riddle, lead instructor of Horticulture Technology, at 336-838-6435 or [email protected] or Mindy Herman, lead instructor of Animal Science, at 336-838-6226 [email protected]