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FFA program aiding career choices

By Staff | Feb 22, 2016

RANDI KOEHLER, Lawton-Branson High School ag instructor/FFA advisor, joins students Reid Harris, left, and Michaela Brenner to discuss a class project. Koehler said the school’s two-year-old ag program has helped students begin making early career choices with some students already eyeing careers in ag business or industry, while others working for farmers are intending to go into farming themselves.

LAWTON – An upbeat Randi Koehler was as she took notice of the table of students in her classroom at Lawton-Bronson High School in Lawton.

“It’s really fun for me to be here watching these young people excited about what they’re learning,” she said. “A number of the students, while living in a rural community, have known little about (agriculture).

“And, with agriculture providing so much, everything they eat, learning what’s involved is so important.”

Learning, Koehler said, includes knowing career options in ag, while others get experience showing livestock at the fair they’d not otherwise have.

Koehler grew up on a farm near Rudd, in Floyd County.

“FFA,” Koehler said, “offers students opportunity to improve on their leadership and public speaking skills.”

The agricultural program becoming a reality a year ago was made possible through a $10,000 grant from the Monsanto Fund to enable the school to establish a curriculum focusing on agricultural science and engineering classroom, as well as establishing the chartering of the FFA chapter.

What was expected to be 20 students enrolled now stands at 45, Koehler said.

“It’s been a great turn out,” she said, as she joined two of the students, Reid Harris, of Sioux City, and Michaela Brenner, of Lawton, to assist them on a project.

“This is all not only really fun for me,” said Harris, a sophomore, “but valuable in that it’s given me new future job possibilities.”

Harris is considering going into aquaculture.

He’s already starting up a small fish farm in the basement of his home with investment in the necessary pumps, pipes, filters and nets.

Twenty fingerling fish are on order for the project, he said.

His FFA work at present, as for that of fellow students, is centering on practice for the approaching sub-district chapter competitions. Harris will participate as vice president of the chapter’s opening and closing ceremonies team, both at the sub-district and district levels.

Brenner, chapter president and a nine-year 4-H club member, said she enrolled in the ag class to give added boost to her ability to connect with others to further build up her communication skills.

She has been encouraging younger students to enroll in the ag program.

“We’re doing all we can to get the message out to them because of the importance of agriculture and agriculture-related businesses within our area,” she said.

As chapter president she has been instrumental in assisting the chapter with its FFA Week special events, including wear your FFA shirt day and hat day.

While Brenner, a senior, said her own career plans are to enroll in nursing school at Unity Point Health, in Sioux City, she said she feels the communication skills and leadership aspects of the program are a definite benefit in her future career.

Koehler said FFA led her to her teaching post.

“I’d been inspired as a high school sophomore to be an ag educator or something like that and continued to follow that path,” she said. “A college internship would later strengthen my feelings that I wanted to educate students because I myself have a passion for agriculture.”

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