This year marks the 75 year anniversary of FFA in Black River Falls. FFA held its yearly FFA week February 23-27, which included lots of dedication, hard work, and even some history.

“We do put a lot of work in, we start meeting about a month before, every so often to try to plan out all the activities that we’re going to do,” said Black River Falls FFA Chapter President Eric Markhardt.

Preparing for FFA week and all the activities holds many responsibilities and struggles.

“There’s a lot of preparation that goes into everything. We have to get supplies, we have to get permission, we have to organize with a lot of different individuals. There’s a lot of committee work, and a lot of individual FFA members do all the things like that,” said FFA adviser, Brad Markhardt.

Black River started an FFA organization in 1940 which was run by an ag teacher, Vernon Hanson, and his twenty-seven ag students. Names of those agriculture students were mentioned in PSAs that were aired on WWIS.

“The only thing that we really changed this year was the Public Service Announcements that we did. We changed the wording of those quite a bit because we wanted to highlight the 75 years. What we did was we made six radio PSA’s for WWIS and each of those six took like five or six of the original charter member names and put those into the PSAs,” said Brad Markhardt.

Quite a bit has changed over the past 75 years in our local FFA chapter.

BRF FFA Charter 1940“You’ll notice on the charter there’s all boy names. No girls. Girls weren’t officially a part of FFA until 1969. Also, I will guarantee you virtually all of these guys on the charter became farmers. It started out very focused on the farming side of agriculture. The business side of ag, engineering, science, marketing, those kinds of things have all changed.”

Even though a lot has changed throughout the local chapter’s history, some things didn’t change.

“In our PSA we talked about how some things still haven’t changed. We still learn by doing. That’s always been a hallmark of ag education. We learn stuff by doing. We still earn success, in other words a student has to work for what they receive and service is an important aspect. Back then they would do things to help people out, and we still do things to help people out,” said Brad Markhardt.

FFA week also withholds many great fundraisers for organizations such as Heifer International and The Great American Milk Drive.

“We’re raising money for Heifer International. It’s an organization that gives animals to people in third world countries. Also, a new organization that were donating to this year is called the Great American Milk Drive. What it does is it gives vouchers to food banks for needy families to be able to get milk,” said Brad Markhardt.

FFA week is the time for FFA members to shine. They use the time to promote themselves and hopefully bring in more members.

“There’s a lot of opportunity in FFA. I just hope that we can help more and more students see the neat opportunities that exist in FFA. Things that’ll help them be successful, right now and also in the future.” said Brad Markhardt.

This is the week for members raise awareness and put in lots of effort.

“FFA week is all about raising awareness for FFA. It’s kind of our week to really put forth a lot of effort into showing people who we are and all that we do,” said Eric Markhardt.

FFA week allows members to share who they are and what their mission is.

“It’s about sharing what we do with everyone. We want to let everyone know what we do, what our mission is, giving them information through trivia and sharing our beliefs,” said Vice President Jayden Gjerseth.