The Twin Valley Chapter of the Future Farmers of America shines in community service and camaraderie.
“FFA is a huge part of my life and made me the person I am today,” said Twin Valley FFA Chapter President Alexis Cochran. “The AG wing feels more like a home than it does a classroom.”
“TV FFA is home to many, though misunderstood by others,” added TV FFA VP of Chapter Development Triniti DiSilvestro. “It is not a club made up of hillbillies with pitchforks; rather, it is a club for people who are passionate about environmental health, animal science, horticulture and sustaining the planet for future generations.”
“In my freshman year I immersed myself into FFA without even realizing it. That is how welcoming it is. FFA became the center of my life,” said Abigail Baumgard, TV FFA VP of Student Development.
“Since my Third Grade Tour, I wanted to be in FFA. I thought any club that has animals was the place for me,” said club secretary Emma Burry. “When I joined my freshman year, it was even better than I imagined. The animals were great, but the people were better.”
Madison Rice, Student Advisor, explained.
“Our chapter mainly focuses on services to better our community,” said Rice. “It teaches people the importance of being connected and involved in community. It also gives members the opportunity to make new friends, travel and learn important life lessons. More than just a club, it’s our second family.”
FAA members are welcome volunteers at community events, doing many community service projects including baking for the local food pantry, recycling Christmas trees, and setting up a petting zoo at the Hay Creek Fall Festival.
While hosting school activities that unite students and faculty with agriculture, they teach elementary students at the annual Third Grade Tour and attend elementary school carnivals with their bunnies and guinea pigs. A favorite is taking the AG center animals for pet therapy to local retirement communities and doing crafting with the residents.
At the Pennsylvania Farm Show on Jan. 6, Twin Valley seniors Alexis Cochran, Abigail Baumgard, Triniti DiSilvestro, Madison Rice and Emma Burry received their Keystone Degrees, the highest degree that the Pennsylvania FFA Association can bestow upon its members and requires students to invest more than 300 hours in their Supervised Agricultural Experience programs, complete 25 hours of community service, participate in over 15 FFA events, and more during their time in FFA.
A supervised agricultural experience, or SAE, is often exhibited at county and state fairs, whether it is showing livestock or displaying a project.
For her SAE project, Cochran completed an Equine Placement at Quarter Horse Performance and Breeding.
“My project was my horses and my love for them. When I was 10, I got my first horse, Enzo for Christmas; now I have six. I recorded caring for the horses daily, feeding, watering, cleaning stalls, and riding throughout the week, while learning responsibility. This year I bred my show mare, Sugars Pepto from Chic’s Loaded Gun. I reported all steps of breeding and care of my mare and foal. My goal is to be a veterinary radiologist.”
Her father suggested she become president of her FAA chapter but thought she was too shy to ever be able to lead a group and speak in front of a crowd.
“My teacher, Mr. Dietrich, pushed me out of my comfort zone. By the end of my junior year I was ready. I ran for president and I was chosen.”
DiSilvestro completed a Work Placement at Tel Hai Retirement Community for her SAE project.
“A typical day was taking residents’ orders, serving food, cleaning the kitchen and keeping the dining area in order. Far from glamorous, it taught me responsibility and hard work. My journals included my tasks and finances. This taught me independence to take care of my own finances.”
Speaking contests and leading events helped her grow in self-confidence.
“At leadership events, I met incredible people with visions for the future of agriculture, strengthening my passion to care for the environment,” said DiSilvestro. “Being VP gave me the privilege of a support team of individuals with similar passions. Our goal is not only to provide members a way to become future agriculture leaders, but to use our knowledge and skills to reveal the importance of agriculture to community members who often overlook it.”
Baumgard completed a Work Placement at Morgantown Village Library.
“There I grew my skills in multiple areas, preparing me for future employment. My AG teachers shaped my experience, both were so giving and inspiring. I am grateful for everything they've taught me,” said Baumgard. “FAA is one of the most organized and professional school clubs, and also one of the oldest. A club known to be a safe space for students who feel like they do not fit in anywhere, we are a family, making sure everyone feels welcome. My time in FFA was wonderful.”
Rice completed a Work Placement at Kraf Bus Service, working in the wash bay cleaning school buses, as well as doing other chores.
“Through FFA, I participated in conferences, contests, community service, and other events. My parents were very involved in their chapters. I heard their great stories, and now I have my own amazing memories,” said Rice.
Burry completed a Feline Placement and Veterinary Internship at Country Companion Animal Hospital, focused on pet care, specifically cats. She learned about caring for animals with chronic diseases.
“Being FFA secretary for two years, I’m more comfortable in my own skin and I have found my family in the Twin Valley FFA,” said Burry.