Shaping tomorrow's leaders through community service and agriculture education is the goal of the 125-member of the Pioneer FFA chapter.
The group conducts several activities to promote student, chapter, and community involvement, including nature trail maintenance at Delevan Elementary and donating food to various organizations such as the Arcade Food Pantry and Delevan Food Pantry.
The Pioneer FFA is an affiliate of the National FFA Organization. There are almost 580,000 FFA members nationwide developing leadership skills and preparing for career success in the field of agriculture. "Agricultural education and FFA is for more than just farm kids," said one of the chapter's advisors, Mary-Lou Genaway. "Our mission is to teach leadership and service, while exposing students to the diversity of today's agriculture."
FFA members can take part in leadership competitions, problem-solving contests and forums on agricultural issues, as well as vying for honors in such hands-on areas as small engine troubleshooting and livestock judging. From regional competitions, students can travel to the state and national levels.
The chapter officers conduct weekly business meetings, and regular monthly activities are conducted for all members. Some of the fun activities include roller-skating, bowling, a carnival, Christmas party, and enjoying a pancake dinner at Moore's Sugarhouse, to name a few.
Members must be either agriculture majors or enrolled in an agriculture class. "That's important to note, because we have a lot of members that are enrolled in our non-traditional agriculture classes, such as Veterinary Science, Small Engines, and Food Science offered here at Pioneer," said Genaway, who advises FFA with fellow teacher Jon Clayson.
Educating others is another FFA function. Through the annual Agricultural Literacy Day, members visit elementary school classes to teach students about how food gets to their plates. FFA members also set up exhibits for the WNY Farm Show, Wyoming County Agripalooza, Arcade Trade Show, and Wyoming County Harvest Fest.
Pioneer's Junior FFA seeks to get students involved in the group in the middle school grades. Like their high school counterparts, Junior FFA members elect officers and have meetings. Their activities focus around a monthly theme.
No story about FFA is complete without mentioning Pioneer Friends For Agriculture, an adult support group for FFA and the Pioneer Agr. program. The group organizes an annual dinner-dance which funds scholarships and provides money for students to attend conferences. Friends for Agriculture also helps purchase educational materials for the Pioneer School District. "They're a real life-saver," said Genaway, "and a voice for us." The Friends are always looking for new members. Anyone with an interest in agricultural education at Pioneer is welcome to join.