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SSHS FFA Chapter Members in Diverse, Rewarding Projects

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Welding is an exciting class for numbers of FFA students who can also earn a Welders Certificate leading to employment. Advanced welding students learn Fabrication.
Mrs. Arthur’s Floral Design class during Valentine’s season 2021

From nurturing greenhouse seedlings into mature plants to artful creation of fresh floral arrangements for fundraising, FFA students do it all. From learning welding basics to designing and creating valuable farm equipment, FFA students do it. From purchasing and raising livestock to exhibit across the state, Sulphur Springs High School FFA students do that too. In fact, the 250-plus membership of the SSHS Future Farmers of America Chapter makes it’s mark on the community in diverse ways all year round. Four instructors share the various teaching duties. On February 12, three were interviewed by KSST and Channel 18TV at the school Ag Department while John Holland was on a trip with students and Dairy cattle projects to the San Antonio Livestock Show. A number of the Ag students will also be showing Ag Mechanics and livestock projects locally during portions of Feb 23, 25, 26 and 27 during the Hopkins County show, sponsored by the NE Texas Livestock Association and numerous industries and individuals in Hopkins County.

Ag instructor Lindsey Arthur’s Floral Design class has been preparing a different arrangement design each month since school got started, and they call it Floral Shop. Since there are 110 students, they make up about 110 identically-designed arrangements which can be reserved by school employees and teachers, then purchased which helps fund the Floral Design class and the Chapter. The massed Valentine bouquets of pink, red and white roses, baby’s breath and large bow were so beautiful and made the Floral Shop workroom wonderfully fragrant! This Spring, the class plans to compete in the Area 6 CDE (Career Development Education) Meet in April, and enter a “Floral Cups” themed contest which will be virtual. Maurie Flecker and Hanna Simmons explained that Advanced Floral Design students also learn the business basics of running or managing a floral business, and are required to earn a certificate during high school which will help them in landing a job in floral design after high school.

First-year Floral Design students are responsible for planting and daily care of the 10,000 plants in the greenhouse!

Ag instructor Taylor Thompson teaches a Vet Science class for Juniors. She grew up in Winnsboro and her family raised pigs, so she had a lot of early training in the care of that species of livestock. She answered an advertisement from SSHS and was hired in 2020. Out of 50 students raising livestock projects, 17 have swine projects and Thompson helps them individually by weighing the pigs and adjusting their feed when needed, to bring them to optimum weight for the county market show later this month. In addition to Vet Science in the classroom and working with livestock, Thompson also works with FFA Chapter members in Creed competitions and other Public Speaking opportunities in FFA. One of her students, Jude Vititow, actually works part-time at a local Vet’s office. Another of the class members, Giselle Montes De Oca, used a replica to explain the reproductive tract of a cow. She plans to earn a Vet Assistant’s License during High School and study at Texas A&M University in Kingsville to become a Veterinarian.

Ag Science student Giselle Montes De Oca explains the reproductive system of a cow with a classroom replica
A large shop made gooseneck trailer by Cash Vititow and Enrique Torres will be entered in Ag Mechanics competition locally and at Houston. It is being used to haul other Ag Mech projects to shows.

Ag Instructor J.T. Luper is in his third year working with SSHS students on Ag Mechanics projects. This year, one of his 3-member teams customized a heavy duty bumper pull trailer which earned a blue ribbon at the San Angelo show earlier this year. The team consists of Kevin Perez, Beau Bankston and Bradley Futch, all Junior students. Another team built a large gooseneck trailer for the school which will be used to haul Ag Mechanics projects to the bigger shows, including the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo coming up in March 2021. That same trailer, built by Jr. Cash Vititow and Sr. Enrique Torres, was entered at San Angelo and took 3rd in Class. Vititow also shows livestock; his current projects are a pen of chickens and a red Brahman heifer. Be sure and watch for these students during the local Ag Mechanics Show on Feb 23 and Livestock Show Feb 25 and 26 in the Hopkins County Civic Center arena. Instructor Luper noted that all classes are geared to helping students prepare for employment after high school and during college if they choose to pursue a degree. He enjoys teaching Fabrication and Welding and assisting students to earn their Welding Certificate during high school, a plus in the job market.

A shop-customized bumper pull trailer by Bradley Futch (left) Beau Bankston (right) and Kevin Perez, all Junior students
SSHS Ag instructors are J.T. Luper and Taylor Thompson, Lindsey Arthur (not shown) and John Holland (not shown)
Freshman FFA Livestock Science students Braddox Rawson and Caroline Coker

Two Freshmen students, Braddox Rawson and Caroline Coker, explained what they like about studying Ag Sciences and being in the SSHS FFA Chapter. Rawson especially enjoys welding and Ag Mechanics and raising different animal projects. He is currently raising three pigs and out of those three, he hopes to show his best two in the local NETLA show Friday February 26 when Swine and Poultry are judged. He also has a Duroc swine to enter in the Houston show in March. Besides the Leadership Development that FFA offers, Caroline also enjoys showing goats. Her previous goat projects have made the local Sale of Champions. Plan to watch for them on Thursday February 25 in the Hopkins County Civic Center arena during the Lamb and Goat judging. After high school, Caroline plans to go to college to study Veterinary and Equine Science.

Most of the students we interviewed truly love learning agriculture-based skills, and during adult life, most of them hope to make or supplement their living through some form of agriculture.

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Author: Enola Gay

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