FFA Corner: Ag Time with Abby – Serving the community, protecting your show animals

“Living to Serve” is the last phrase in the FFA motto, and Florida FFA members have truly taken it to heart this past year. One chapter in particular, Auburndale High School (AHS) FFA, has gone above and beyond to help their fellow classmates and neighbors.

Two years ago, when students of AHS noticed an overflow of eggs that they were collecting from the laying hens at school, their advisor, Mrs. Shaske thought of a solution that would make sure the eggs get eaten and help their local food bank. Through their partnership with Meals on Wheels, AHS FFA donates their collected eggs once a week; and during the winter and spring, they donate the vegetables grown in their garden.

The chapter also received a grant to start a Vertigro System, which is being started now, and part of the deal is to donate a portion of all the food grown in the Vertigro garden to Meals on Wheels.

The students also take part in the Hearth program and collect toiletries, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, a comb/brush, towel, etc. The members put one of each item in a gallon size bag and send it to Bartow where it is distributed to homeless students across Polk County.

Now for the most exciting news of all: Auburndale High School students were so inspired by my “No More Hungry Hornets” campaign, along with Project Fill ’Em Up, that they started “No Hungry Hounds” and are bringing Project Fill ’Em Up to AHS! The most rewarding part of my work is hearing stories of how other young students are inspired to also make a difference and be the change they want in their community.

Another thing I would like to talk to you all about is the show season coming up. I am sure all of you have already purchased your show animals. Whether it be a market hog, chicken, rabbit, heifer, or steer, please be mindful of the crimes happening on a day-to-day basis.

Just recently, a student’s market hog was taken out of its pen at George Jenkins High School. Luckily, the school’s security cameras were on and in the perfect place to catch the pig robbers. The pig was later returned to its rightful owner. Unfortunately, you’re not always this lucky. Last year, during Thanksgiving break, two students stole multiple chickens and rabbits from Haines City High School’s Ag department. Another incident that occurred last year took place at Paso Robles High School in California. A five-month-old show steer was doused in lighter fluid and set on fire in the schools barn. The steer survived and an arrest was made seven months later. While that case was not in our state, the former two were.

Please take extra precautions to ensure the safety of your animals. Purchase security cameras, and place them all around so that— in the event that something does happen— it will be easier to catch the criminal. Always make sure to lock every gate back when you are leaving your animal’s pen and I highly recommend getting an insurance policy on your show animal.

As always, while you’re carving pumpkins and having fun exploring through corn mazes this fall, remember to… THANK A FARMER!



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