FFA and agriculture go together like America and baseball. It’s hard to imagine one without the other. One FFA chapter in Georgia capitalized on both when it used the nation’s pastime to connect the public to agriculture in its state.
Members of the Apalachee FFA Chapter in Winder, Ga., distributed peanuts to attendees at a varsity baseball game to help their community connect to Georgia’s peanut industry. During the Peanut Appreciation Night members shared peanut packets (donated by the Georgia Peanut Commission) and information about peanut production. There was also a raffle that attendees could enter for a chance to win a peanut-related prize. This event led Apalachee FFA to be a finalist for the 2019 Premier Chapter: Strengthening Agriculture award.
“I think the biggest takeaway that I had from it was how something simple can have a greater impact,” says Megan Parks, president of the Apalachee FFA Chapter. “We just took some facts about peanuts and the history of peanut production, and [that] kind of relayed a bigger message about how there’s so many things that directly and indirectly affect us. We don’t produce peanuts in Barrow County, but it is a more than two million dollar industry in Georgia.”
Peanut Appreciation Night was held at the school’s in-county rival game, which brings in a larger local audience, Parks says. An element that cannot be left out is the peanut costume, which several members donned during the game for photo opportunities with attendees.
“I volunteered for it,” Chevelle Jett, chapter reporter, says with a laugh. She says the event gave her community a more in-depth knowledge of peanuts.
Apalachee FFA advisor Samantha Kickbush recognizes that the local community is shifting from rural to urban, so educating the public about agriculture is even more important now.
“We’re very fortunate in the fact that, because we still have a lot of community members that are traditional ag, we still have a lot of support, which helps us get our message out to everybody,” Kickbush says.
Apalachee FFA engages its members, student body and community in many different ways; Kickbush said they plan events that hit every category for the National Chapter Award to create a well-rounded program. Some of the other programs include a farm-to-school livestock project that ultimately turns into food served within the school, a suicide awareness walk and an official dress clothing drive.
Through the Peanut Appreciation Night event, Apalachee FFA articulated the involvement of agriculture in multiple parts of life — even something as simple as a baseball game snack. High school senior Amy Bowles, who serves as the chapter secretary, says that even though she is not certain what career she will pursue after high school, she could see herself communicating about agriculture.
“If you think about the bigger picture, everything that you do throughout a daily basis, everything you interact with comes from something that has to do with agriculture, so you’re never going to really be able to escape that in a career path,” she says. “Just being able to show people, like, ‘This is how it’s done and where it’s done and this is where it came from’ — I feel like doing something like that for the rest of my life is pretty awesome.”