FFA members ready to share activities at fair
The Blooming Prairie Future Farmers of America chapter will be telling Steele County Fair visitors about their activities during the year. The Blooming Prairie FFA, advised by Bill Rinkenberger, is one of the most active chapters in the area.
Many of the BP FFA members have been active in 4-H at the Steele County Free Fair. Both the 4-H and FFA experience mold outstanding young leaders.
Fair aside, two programs that had high priority the past year with Blooming Prairie’s FFA chapter are Farm Safety and Feed a Farmer.
A longtime member of the local FFA chapter, Tim Wolf, and a relative newcomer, Lexi Ripka were very involved in the planning process for these two programs.
Last September, the local FFA chapter sponsored a Farm Safety Day in Central Park of Blooming Prairie. September is typically National Farm Safety Month.
Chapter members brought actual large farm equipment and set up stations at the park. Blooming Prairie Elementary School students in grades kindergarten through sixth grade had the opportunity to learn more about being safe on the farm.
“We have been doing this even before I came here 14 years ago,” said vocational agriculture instructor Bill (Rink) Rinkenberger.
“Farm safety is very important and teaches
kids about being safe on the farm,” remarked Wolf. “The young kids are more familiar with where the food comes from and don’t know too much about the safety precautions that are taken daily by farmers,” Wolf added.
Rinkenberger said the young kids of today are two to three generations removed from those of the highly active agriculture years. “Sadly, lots of kids think food comes from a grocery store,” he said.
“The farm safety program helps get kids more involved, the young elementary students and the FFA chapter members,” said Lexi. Rinkenberger said he was pleased with the high turnout of chapter members expressing willingness to plan and work at the Farm Safety DayFollowing the Farm Safety Day sessions, chapter members served a pot luck featuring pork burgers. Local farmers visited the FFA members and talked to them about making agriculture a career.
The Feed a Farmer project was unrolled for the first time last year, upon the suggestion of Rinkenberger who had read about other chapters doing this program.
What it involves is having the chapter make a bag lunch for farmers working on the harvest in the field.
“I’ve never met a non-hungry farmer at harvest time,” Rinkenberger said.
Many farmers spend long days in the field and are often in the field 70 hours or more during the weeks of harvest season. “This is our way of giving back to farmers who are out there dedicated to the harvest,” Wolf said. The bag lunch contains two ham sandwiches, potato chips, a fruit snack and a beverage. “Many of the farmers were blown away by this generosity,” stated Rinkenberger.
The FFA kids set up an assembly line in the vocational agriculture classroom to make the lunch bags. “The farmers really liked this gesture,” Wolf said.
Forty-five lunches were prepared. Food was purchased through the FFA’s account. Ripka said it is the hope of the FFA chapter to do this Feed a Farmer project twice during the year, once in the spring and again in the fall. “It’s our duty to help the farmers,” Wolf believes.