LATIMER – The Tall Corn FFA chapter is in its third year and was organized when the Hampton-Dumont Community Schools needed an instructor for its Agricultural and Life Sciences studies.
It approached the neighboring school district at Latimer, CAL Community, to inquire about the possibility of sharing its vocational agriculture-FFA instructor.
The position was full time for each school with K-12 enrollment holding steady at CAL and slightly increasing at Hampton-Dumont.
Sarah DuBour was in her third year at CAL as vo-ag instructor and FFA advisor. She did her student teaching at CAL Community before being hired as instructor.
DuBour is a native of Clarinda, where her father was a vo-ag instructor and raised purebred polled Hereford cattle.
The two Franklin County schools systems merged their agricultural curricula, and DuBour commutes the 12 miles between the two high schools to perform her teaching duties and serves as FFA advisor for the Tall Corn FFA Chapter.
DuBour’s agriculture curriculum reflects the modern face of vocational agriculture and FFA. In the past, FFA was male dominated.
She has 66 high school students with a mix of 50-50 male and female. About one-third of her students live in town.
FFA projects have widened their scope. DuBour said FFA projects are “products of agriculture.”
For example, an FFA project of a lawn-mowing service is an introduction to turf management. The student will be learning about fertilization and weed control.
In the past FFA recognized the importance of training leaders in its competitive public speaking programs that included extemporaneous speaking and parliamentary procedure.
DuBour’s program expands its public speaking instruction to include how to set up a meeting, how to prepare for a job interview and radio broadcasting.
Her classes are titled ag one, two, and three for the different years of high school and a concurrent enrollment course available to juniors and seniors that allows them to receive college credits in animal science and agronomy.
DuBour’s ag curriculum, in addition to class and lab work and FFA, has a third component titled Supervised Agricultural Experiences.
She said FFA member’s experiences range from working unpaid with horses to owning a cattle herd.
Livestock remains an important part of Tall Corn FFA. Its judging team went to county fairs for practice, and last summer at the state livestock competition held the week after the Iowa State Fair, the team received fourth place honors.
Fifteen FFA members participated in the Franklin County Fair and 10 members at the state fair showing sheep, hogs, dogs, horses, chickens, rabbits, cattle and tractors.
The Tall Corn FFA participates in the Franklin County Fair when the Franklin Farmhands have a display to teach children the sources of their food.
The idea was from a display at the state fair called Little Hands on the Farm where children see a small scale simulated farm, DuBour said.
Franklin Farmhands’ display includes live animals, garden plots, a small scale grain bin and driving a pedal tractor. The last stop is a treat at the store.
With two years in operation, DuBour said 400 children will participate during the four-day run of the Franklin County Fair.
Each spring, third graders from Franklin County travel to the fairgrounds in Hampton for Ag in the Classroom where they see projects of the Tall Corn FFA members.
Children see livestock and learn about safety when riding on a tractor.
Last April, two students wrote papers for the Iowa Youth Institute on the subject of solving problems in emerging countries.
Tall Corn FFA member Spencer Brinkman’s presentation was reviewed by a panel and went on to be part of World Food Prize Institute in October, DuBour said.
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