BUCKHANNON — Buckhannon-Upshur High School Future Farmers of America chapter president Abigail Poling updated the Buckhannon Rotary Club on the youth group’s activities last week at Rotary’s regular meeting.
A senior this year, Poling is currently serving as one of seven vice presidents for the statewide agriculture group.
Last Tuesday marked the fourth time she’s spoken to the organization as an FFA student leader.
“I’m a four-year member of FFA in Upshur County, so I represent 5,000 members across the state,” Poling said. “There is a vice president for every region in the state.”
Poling started her presentation by reading aloud a thank-you letter expressing gratitude to the Rotary club for their support throughout her tenure with FFA. Poling noted that the service organization has sponsored the student club in a variety of its endeavors, including paying for FFA members to go to the Small Farm Conference in Charleston in January.
“You also bought jackets for our members who could not afford them,” Poling said. “I want to thank you for listening, giving advice and loving us at all times.”
Poling said FFA has recently undergone some changes, including getting a new FFA/agriculture teacher to replace longtime teacher, Connie Scarbrough, who recently moved out of state to care for an ailing family member. Allyson Lewis has stepped into Scarbrough’s slot, now serving as both agriculture teacher and leader of FFA, Poling said.
“She’s a lot like Mrs. Scarbrough,” Poling said. “She’s headstrong, and it’s going to be her way or the highway.”
In addition to a new teacher, there have also been a few changes to the FFA property, Poling added.
“I don’t know if you guys have noticed driving by, but there’s been some changes to our property — the fence has been taken down, we have a drain system running through it and we have water there, so we’re stepping up and that’s really great,” Poling said. “We have a gentleman that is willing and able to pay for every fencepost that is needed to fence off the entire property.”
Poling also detailed a variety of the FFA members’ recent activities, such as installing a new slate of officers at its annual banquet in March and attending the annual Beef Expo at WVU Jackson’s Mill in Weston.
“We had about 26 kids attend the beef expo and they placed in the top 10, which is really good for them because they just kind of went with it,” Poling said. “With everything going on, they didn’t really have much practice.”
Poling said FFA plans to set a special float for the 76th annual W.Va. Strawberry Festival, which continues through Sunday.
“We’re going to have about 26 kids on that, including freshman and our freshman participation is going up, so that’s a good thing,” she said. “That’s encouraging for me to know that when I’m graduating, our membership will not go down.”
Although the B-UHS FFA club is “kind of at a standstill currently,” members will be attending the Spring Career Development Events at West Virginia University in June, Poling said.
“We have a speaking competition so that’s career development,” Poling said. “Whether it’s speaking or it has something to do with the greenhouse, we usually take about six teams for that, so that’s going to be really exciting, too.”
Also in June, the local FFA chapter plans to set up a kids’ animal exhibit at the 2017 Almost Heaven BBQ Bash, slated to take place June 16-17 in the lawn of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston. Then, on July 12-15, about 12 students will travel to the state FFA Convention at Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley, W.Va.
In other Rotary news, the club appointed a new slate of officers for the 2017-2018 year. The approved list includes: Dan Martin, president; DeAnna Grogg, president-elect; Marty Kelley, treasurer; Maria Bray, secretary; and David Long, sergeant-at-arms. President Steve Cain said the vice-president slot remains vacant, noting that Rotary is seeking nominations for the opening.
Cain also delivered donations to Rock Cave Elementary School principal Amanda Craig for the school’s backpack program in the amount of $2,000 and to ART 26201 president Bryson VanNostrand for the organization’s public art program in the amount of $500.