FFA squad earns top honor

SHERBURN – Martin County West recently grabbed first-place honors for ag literacy at the state’s FFA convention in St. Paul.

“It was a good convention overall,” said the group’s?adviser, Stephanie Wohlhuter. “We had 27 members attend, which is about a third of our members … Out of our five teams, the worst we placed was seventh.”

The convention was held Sunday through Tuesday, with more than 3,000 FFA members, advisers and guests in attendance. There were 19 state FFA chapters recognized at the convention for their efforts to increase ag literacy.

“We had to file an application for one of our activities that involves talking to others about ag,” Wohlhuter said. “The one that got first place was our kids’ gardening program that we do in the summer.”

Throughout the 2012-13 year, the FFA chapters were challenged to conduct agricultural literacy programs in their communities. Members had to log their hours and activities to participate in the competition against other FFA chapters.

Wohlhuter said there was no advance notice to the groups that placed in the ag literacy challenge.

“It was a surprise,” she said. “I think the kids were excited and curious to learn which project was the one that won, because they didn’t talk about the projects that placed … We have several programs we do. We host the petting zoo and help kids learn about animals and where their food comes from. We have ag-related competitions, and then we have the gardens.”

The community and children’s co-op gardens have been a fixture at Martin County West for several years. During the summer, current and past Martin County West FFA members have helped teach younger students about gardening and the concept of “from the farm to the table.”

“Now that the convention’s over, we’re starting to thinking about summer projects and the gardens,” Wohlhuter said.