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On August 29th, 1929, twenty-three Muscatine High School boys signed and made Muscatine Future Farmers of America (FFA) the second chartered FFA chapter in Iowa. Through the years, many things have changed, and the numbers have grown, but many of the same principles have remained the same. Now, the Muscatine FFA chapter stands out as the oldest existing chapter in Iowa, and has built up strength over the years, making it one of the largest chapters in the state.
To have a strong FFA chapter, a school must also offer a strong agricultural education program. Agricultural education teaches students about agriculture, food, and natural resources. Through these subjects, agricultural educators teach students a wide variety of skills, including science, math, communications, leadership, management, and technology. Agricultural education consists of three interconnected components, classroom or laboratory instruction, experiential learning (learning experiences that usually take place outside of the classroom, supervised by the agriculture instructor), and leadership education (delivered through student organizations such as the National FFA Organization, the National Young Farmer Education Association, National Postsecondary Agricultural Student Organization, and others).
Through community, school leadership, and business support, the agriculture program has seen lots of growth over the years. This year, over 350 students enrolled in ag classes. With the growing enrollment, Muscatine now has three full-time agriculture instructors and FFA leaders at the high school: Dave Tometich, Sam Paul, and Josh Day. Every year, between 200 and 300 students actively participate in FFA. Seven years ago, Muscatine Community School District began offering an agriculture course to 8th graders. Since then, it has expanded to include all middle school grades, and the program has a teacher, Ashley Weibe, at either Central or West Middle School all day long. Overall, this year over 600 middle school students will be enrolled in an agriculture exploratory course.
As we get to the fourth quarter and enter summer, FFA looks forward to several upcoming events including, the Parent Member Banquet, the Day of Caring, Ag Safety Day, the State Convention, the Monsanto Trip, the Kiddie Barnyard, the Bee Release, and the World Food Prize. In addition, the chapter will compete in a number of career development events including ag sales, poultry, horse, nursery, floriculture, ag mechanics, and meats and livestock evaluation in the next couple of months. The chapter also has about seventy students who will attend either the Muscatine County or Iowa State Fair and exhibit their projects.

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