Kutztown FFA celebrates 75 years of agriculture education and FFA leadership training by hosting a 75th Anniversary Bash for all former FFA members at the Virginville Grange on Feb. 23.
The event includes games, a Chinese Auction, old chapter scrapbooks on display and a family-style meal served at 6:30 p.m. followed by the night’s activities. Attendees are encouraged to bring along other FFA members and their FFA jackets.
“The anniversary (event) is a celebration that we’ve been active in FFA for 75 years which is pretty exciting because not a lot of (chapters) in this area have been around that long,” said Kutztown FFA secretary Jaquelin Cartier, a senior. “It’s mainly going to be a get together of past members and families just to see how they’re doing.”
Over the past 75 years, Kutztown FFA provided leadership opportunities, agricultural education classes, and individual learning opportunities. Kutztown FFA members have gone on to become agriculture teachers, foresters, extension agents, veterinarians, nurses, college professors, machinery mechanics, welders, barn or greenhouse managers and specialists in many agriculture and medical fields or work for various government agencies such as the USDA, Game Commission and the Conservation District. Some went back to the farm or are working for an agricultural business. Others started their own businesses.
The Kutztown FFA was founded on Nov. 17, 1942. The founding officers were President Kenneth Nuse, Vice President Nello Kunkel, Secretary Stanley Kern, treasurer Donald Siegfried, Watch Dog (Sentinel) Lee Breidigam and Paul C. Dunkelberger, Advisor.
The founding chapter had 35 charter members. Today Kutztown has 62 members participating in all sorts of programing.
“75 years is a long time. We have a solid program. We’re pretty good at what we do in FFA and our guys and girls have always been good at what FFA stands for and is about. So (75th anniversary) is just exciting,” said Kutztown senior Nathan Raudenbush, Kutztown FFA vice president. “It’s a big deal to get everyone in the same place at the same time from all these different areas and times of life.”
“Over 75 years, all these students have come through here so we want to get as many to come and share what they did differently, how things have changed, what they are doing now,” said Celeste Ball, Kutztown FFA advisor.
The Kutztown FFA chapter hopes the anniversary event helps them connect with more former members to for their FFA Alumni Program.
“Alumni help with training for career development events. They help with fundraising, field trips,” said Ball. “It’s just hard to contact people because we don’t know where they are.”
Ball only has contact with her own past students but wants to connect former FFA members prior to her teaching at Kutztown.
“We’re going back a lot further with people who have some real life experiences,” said Ball.
Kutztown FFA Reporter Ethan Sanner, a sophomore, has deeps roots in agriculture, as is evident in the FFA chapter scrapbooks that have pictures of his older brother, father and grandfather.
“FFA has really expanded my horizons in what I want to do. I’ve always been involved in agriculture since I was young. I’ve lived on a farm my whole life. My Dad and his father as well as his father were all farmers,” said Sanner who aspires to work in the agricultural field.
He plans to study biology or natural resources conservation at either Delaware Valley University or Penn State Berks.
“FFA shows you how to make opportunities and how to use them as well,” said Sanner.
Cartier said FFA also gives opportunities to students who may not otherwise be exposed to agriculture education, such as herself, who does not come from a farming family. The FFA program exposed her to horticulture and now that’s her desired career path. She will be studying horticulture and agri-business at Delaware Valley University and aspires to own her own nursery or greenhouse or work for a seed company.
“I never would have know that I liked that if I wasn’t in FFA,” said Cartier. “It’s really grown my opportunities for finding out what I would like to do with my life.”
“It really shows the importance of farmers and what they do for our society,” said Raudenbush, who is currently working on a farm and studying electrical engineering at Reading Area Community College. He also harvests wood and sells firewood.
“As the world progresses to more technology, we need our agricultural base now more than ever,” said Cartier.
Kutztown FFA President Zachary Schell, a senior, said FFA is about more than farming.
“It’s about the whole agricultural experience,” said Schell. “It gives us more experiences and opportunities with everybody that’s involved.”
“It’s not just based upon farming,” said Cartier. “It’s technology, mechanics, woodworking. It’s so broad of a spectrum but people don’t always see that.”
“There are leadership events,” added Schell. “We talk to legislators. They tell us about the real world and being a leader within our little group but then going into the world.”
Schell will be going to Penn State Berks to study mechanical engineering and hopes to improve future agricultural technology.
Kutztown FFA Historian Megan Dieter, a junior, is responsible for photographing FFA members throughout the year and puts the chapter scrapbook together.
“The older generations can come back and they can look at throughout the years what this chapter has done,” said Dieter.
Scrapbooks will be on display at the anniversary event.
“We hope (alumni) come out. It’s going to be a good time,” said Sanner.
Tickets for the Kutztown FFA 75th Anniversary Bash - $16 for adults, $8 for children ages 10 to 5 and children under 5 free - can be purchased by stopping by the Ag. Department or by making a check out to Kutztown Area School District, with FFA on the memo line, and mailing it to Kutztown FFA, 50 Trexler Ave., Kutztown, PA, 19530. Call 610-683-7346, ext. 7435 and leave a message.