In September 2017, Hurricane Maria ripped across the island of Puerto Rico causing catastrophic damage and numerous fatalities. It was regarded as the worst natural disaster on record in Puerto Rico, and residents of the island were still recovering from Hurricane Irma, which struck two weeks earlier.
Puerto Rico is home to 2,650 FFA members and 150 chapters. One year to the day after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, I was on the ground there, experiencing firsthand the resilience and dedication of its FFA members.
Take this account from Juan Maury, the agriculture instructor and FFA advisor at Escuela SU Antonio Tulla Torres in Utuado, Puerto Rico:
“We have an 8-acre farm at the school with a small coffee plantation, plantains and vegetable gardens. Trees were uprooted, and the farm had 100 percent destruction.”
In typical FFA fashion, however, members and others pitched in and helped rebuild.
“There were people, like angels, who came to help us clean up the school farm. Community members, other teachers from our school and other FFA chapters came. They’d ask, ‘What are we doing today?’ and then get to work.”
To that, I say, viva Puerto Rico! And long live FFA! The trip was one that moved me deeply, and I’m honored to share it with you.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the disaster that also recently struck a wide swath of the Corn Belt. Record floods hit Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and other states in March, and impacted some FFA members. Unsurprisingly, FFA chapters have pitched in to help with cleanup efforts. You can read about some of them at FFA.org.
In this issue, you’ll also find articles about a fashion designer with FFA roots, elephant feeders designed by a chapter in Pennsylvania, food waste, steps for starting an ag tech start-up and more.
Enjoy and have a great summer!
– Justin Davey
Editor, FFA New Horizons