LHS seniors reflect on value of FFA

LHS seniors reflect on value of FFA
Posted on 06/26/2018

Alex Strandgard came to Lynden from St. Louis, having never experienced much in the way of farm life. Fellow Lynden student Zane Gavett convinced Strandgard to give FFA (Future Farmers of America) a try and not only did Strandgard learn plenty about a new way of life, he also learned that FFA is about far more than just taking care of animals (although, there is that too. 

“When I lived in the city it was the opposite of what I’m doing now,” Alex says. “People can look at me and this kid who came from the city who now shows goats. It is cool to show people you don’t have to be a farmer and you don’t have to drive a truck.”

As Strandgard and Gavett join with fellow FFA seniors who graduated from Lynden High School, they can look forward to what is next for them. But first they took time to reflect on why FFA was such a powerful experience.

For Alex, part of a state-winning Ag Comm team, he knows the challenge of public speaking in FFA has helped him in life. “I was always a shy person and couldn’t talk to anyone,” he says. “I feel way more comfortable now. I got a job two months ago and I was confident and could look people in the eye. It has helped beyond high school and will help for a long time." 

Gavett, who plans to travel to Iowa to work on a prestigious cattle ranch before entering his next level of schooling, says the friendships are what he’ll take with him. “These are long-lasting relationships,” he says.

Lacey Beimold, the CTE student of the year, says that as she went through FFA she realized the power of the community and the importance of both tradition and enjoyment. She points to the fair as a key component, a chance for students to show animals and learn about the process, but also have fun with fellow FFA members at the same time.

Showing animals has long been a staple of FFA life. Andie Sahagian says that FFA allows students an opportunity to be part of farming without having to live on a farm. “I was able to live a farm life and live in town,” she says. She showed three pigs at the fair while keeping her animals in the FFA barn at the high school. “Showing is fun and different and it is cool to get involved.”

Whether the fair or events, Lindsay Eldred says FFA allowed her to meet people she wouldn’t have otherwise met. Having gone to nationals in the past, she was able to make friends with people from other states and build relationships through her involvement with other associations. FFA started those relationships, she says.

But FFA is more than just farming, as seen by the Ag Comm team’s success at state and other aspects of the club. “It is about speaking skills and teamwork,” Sahagain says, “it makes you career ready.”

T.J. VanderYacht loved the ties to the greater Lynden community. Whether through helping at the fair’s PTA booth or running the corn maze, the volunteer opportunities allowed him to make a difference in Lynden.

Eldred says FFA also lets students explore. If they want to try communications, they can. If they want to try marketing, they can. If they want to try farming or ag science, they certainly can. “It is important to try if you think you may want to do that as a job,” she says. “FFA gives you the opportunity to try it.”

As the students now scatter to new places—Beimold to Washington State University for ag education, Eldred to Montana State University, VanderYacht to the University of Washington, Sahagian to Grand Canyon University, Strandgard to Whatcom Community College and Gavett to Iowa—they will take with them both the lessons and the relationships formed thanks to FFA.