Today's FFA offers students lessons in more than farming

John Marshall's FFA chapter is among 352 from across Oklahoma expected to participate in this year's FFA Convention and Career Show on April 30 and May 1 at the Cox Convention Center.
BY CHRIS SCHUTZ, For The Oklahoman Published: April 22, 2013

Salsa made from homegrown jalapenos packs a lot more heat than a recipe made from store-bought peppers.

That's one thing junior David Bye learned from his agriculture class and FFA activities at John Marshall Mid High School.

The school, with grades 7 to 12 in north Oklahoma City, is more urban than rural. The campus is on NW 122 near the busy Lake Hefner Parkway.

Even so, agriculture classes and FFA are valuable to a student who may never plow a field, milk a cow or raise a calf, said Chris Ivy, one of the two agriculture teachers.

John Marshall's FFA chapter is among 352 from across Oklahoma expected to participate in this year's FFA Convention and Career Show on April 30 and May 1 at the Cox Convention Center.

Ivy said his students are excited about the convention, where they will focus on leadership workshops and activities.

His students get hands-on experience in the school greenhouse, growing flowers and vegetable plants, Ivy said. In early April, they held a plant sale to raise money for FFA programs and beautification of the campus.

Surrounding him in the greenhouse are flats of periwinkles, begonias, peppers, geraniums and ornamental sweet potato vines.

The students develop “a passion for their own home gardening. It's a skill they can take into their adult life” said Ivy, an agriculture education graduate of Oklahoma State University.

The students learn to keep an eye on the plants and “if something's wrong, how to fix it,” Ivy said.

“They really take pride in what they're doing. They take ownership.”

There's another perk to taking ag class, said Bye, an aspiring aircraft engineer who has started a garden at home. “You can get dirty at school.”

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