Youth Transforming Community
A Blue and Gold celebration of a different kind is happening this week as the North Park FFA celebrates National FFA Week. The national theme for this year is “Transform” which is very fitting for this group of service oriented members.
Our local chapter is unique because 47 of the 52 high school students that attend North Park High are enrolled in Agriculture Education and the FFA. That’s a 90% success rate in a district that continues to see declining enrollment. Six years ago when Advisor Eric Wellman began his teaching career here there were 33 members and only 3 girls in the program. Today over half of the members are female and the enrollment has grown.
What’s transformed the North Park Chapter? There’s number of things. They’ve added a Food Science, Animal Science and Natural Resource class. They also partner with Colorado Northwest Community College to offer dual enrollment credits on Animal Science and Welding courses. Another positive opportunity is the diversity seen now in Supervised Agriculture Education (SAE) programs.
“There’s a shift from the traditional, production agriculture projects into more placement projand participate in the FFA program. The intracurricular program can be complex, but the success the trio model creates prepares students with life and job skills that are needed after graduation.
Chapter President, Jacob Wintermote, is a successful product of the chapter. He raises a production beef herd and has a diversified agriculture project. Wintermote says, “The FFA transformed my life by offering the opportunity to raise a cattle herd as well as polish my public speaking skills.” Wintermote is the son of Angie and Dean Wintermote who ranch in the Coalmont area. I asked Jake what makes your chapter successful in this school. “As a chapter we really serve our community and strive to give back to the (North) Park. We have an opportunity to learn leadership and job skills to use in our future. Mostly we give back to the community. It’s important to us.” This is the mindset that will change the world, as we see it has transformed the chapter.
Chapter members are involved in every aspect of the North Park community and are seen impacting lives here daily. They volunteer time to do firewood for local senior citizens. In October they Trick-or-Treated for canned foods that were donated to the local food bank. The new Food Science Class, taught by Afton Sheil, shares their food preparation skills with senior citizens by preparing them meals. This is great practice because this week the membership will be rising before dawn to prepare a breakfast for the Staff at North Park School Students are also found helping setup community events such as the North Park Fair.
Advisor Wellman attributes this service attitude to the leadership of his seniors. “These kids ‘get’ that they’re part of something bigger and they truly love helping and giving back to their community. They never question or complain they just go to work.”
Wellmans philosophy has transformed as a teacher as well. After six years in the program he has learned a lot and tries to carry out a message he learned in his own training. “We are what we honor, so what are you? That’s what we do in North Park. We honor our community and try to do good for them.”
North Park has a vibrant community that is still connected to the roots of the chapter’s beginnings from 1969. Wellmans says that’s what he loves about this chapter. The alumni is as involved as the members. As a returning member to our community, Principal Jack Daly sees the value on every level. He states, "FFA teaches our students some of the most important skills they can have from leadership to public speaking. This program prepares our students to make an impact on the world."
The North Park Chapter kicked off the week with a free community dance Friday night. They
will carry out the celebration with dress up days at school including Super Hero Day, Greenhand
Day, Decade Day and of course Blue and Gold Day.
"Be Your Own Hero” is the chapter theme for this year. It looks like these members of the North Park Chapter are heroes to our community for what they do to transform their leadership into service in our community.