A community-wide initiative launched late last year to enhance the educational experience of students at Sibley-Ocheyedan High School has reached a successful milestone. The FFA chapter at the northwest Iowa school has just completed a $380,000 fundraising campaign to expand the ag education department and hire an additional classroom instructor.
Members of the Sibley-Ocheyedan FFA were joined March 26 by their parents, teachers, school officials and guests for the chapter's annual banquet. A special announcement took place during the banquet's awards program recognizing the success of the unique fundraising campaign dedicated to expanding opportunities in agricultural education and overall student excellence.
Offer advanced ag courses, expand FFA to middle school students
The campaign was led by community volunteers who sought to raise funds for the hiring of a second agriculture education teacher at the school. The staff addition would allow the school to offer more advanced agriculture courses and expand its FFA program to the benefit of middle school students.
In less than six months, the necessary funds were donated. Alex Emerson of Osage will join second-year instructor Brian Gottlob in serving students and FFA members.
"Farming is the heartbeat of our community as it touches every family, person, student, office and business," says Mystic Henningsen, a senior at Sibley-Ocheyedan High and FFA chapter vice president. "To raise the funds needed to enhance the student experience to the benefit of everyone is exciting and deepens my love for our school and community."
This school has the fourth-largest FFA chapter in Iowa
The Sibley-Ocheyedan FFA is the fourth-largest chapter in Iowa with more than 120 active members. Nearly 150 high school students (more than half of the student body) are enrolled in ag education courses.
"There's tremendous demand among our students for opportunities to be personally engaged and involved in their learning experience," says Dan Berkland, DVM, a member of the Sibley-Ocheyedan school board. "A strong agriculture education program adds to the overall success of our school and that benefits every aspect of our ability to serve students and their scholastic achievements."
Agriculture, points out Berkland, relates to so many career opportunities including food science, agronomy, environment, banking and lending, engineering, transportation, sales and communications, to name just a few.
Some schools reduce or eliminate ag education, this one is growing
Emerson, who's currently student teaching at Gilbert High School in central Iowa, says joining Gottlob and the Sibley-Ocheyedan High School staff is a dream come true, especially considering that many schools currently have to reduce or eliminate their ag education offerings.
"The enthusiasm in this community to serve students here at Sibley-Ocheyedan is unmistakable and I look forward to being part of this excitement in a community that so values education and its school," adds Emerson. "We have something very unique, particularly as it relates to our ability to serve more students and younger students." Emerson will officially begin his duties July 1.
Campaign leaders said they are continuing to accept contributions toward the campaign. For more information contact Karl Bormann at 712-754-2561 or [email protected].