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Northwest High School students celebrate FFA Week

Northwest High School students celebrate FFA Week

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Watching the sun come up before class, Grand Island Northwest FFA students, including sophomore Jonak Thayer (left) and senior Mason Janky, help celebrate FFA Week by driving their tractors to school Friday morning. Both Thayer and Janky drove John Deere tractors. (Independent/Barrett Stinson)

FFA chapters across the nation, including the Northwest High School FFA chapter, celebrate the skills and connections members make through their involvement.

This is National FFA Week.

Katie Hornung, who is Northwest’s FFA adviser, is in her first year in the position. She graduated from Northwest High School in 2012 and was a member of FFA while in high school.

Hornung said there will be events each day this week at the school in celebration of FFA Week.

Monday was Cap Day and today will be FFA T-Shirt Day with a special breakfast for FFA members.

On Wednesday, they will have a canned food drive collecting food to be donated to the Salvation Army. It also will be Jeans and Boots Day.

On Thursday, FFA members will be serving up an appreciation lunch to school staff members.

On Friday, they will be driving their tractors to school.

Hornung said FFA Week allows members to show their accomplishments and promote awareness of the FFA program.

“We do a lot throughout the year and this is just one week we show our appreciation to everybody who has helped us out, whether it is community members or our staff at Northwest High School,” she said.

Thayer Jonak, a senior at Northwest, is the chapter’s treasurer.

Jonak said he joined FFA to get more involved as he entered high school. His father, Jim Jonak, was FFA chapter president when he attended Northwest.

“It is a good way to spread awareness of what we are doing,” Jonak said about FFA Week. “It is a week to showcase what we have accomplished and let everyone know who we are and where we come from.”

Hornung said they also have activities planned throughout the week with FFA alumni in Hall County.

“It is a great resource for the kids to make those connections,” she said. “Without our alumni, I don’t think we could run as smoothly as we do.”

Many of the alumni are parents of current FFA members.

The Northwest High School FFA chapter has 61 members this year. That does not include those young people who have graduated, but continue to be members of the local chapter.

“We are going strong this year,” Hornung said. “We are very active and very motivated.”

She said FFA is about hands-on learning.

“We do a lot of hands-on activities and contests that are more career-oriented,” Hornung said. “They get to be involved in things that they are interested in or plan to have a career in.”

Hornung said leadership training is another important part of the FFA experience. Many FFA students remain active members of their community or the business they are associated with.

She said FFA is a pathway for the students to a lot of different career opportunities, especially in agriculture. Hornung said one-in-four jobs in Nebraska have ties to agriculture, which is the state’s biggest industry.

Connor Scholz, a Northwest senior, is chapter vice president.

“FFA Week is a great chance for us to tell the other students who we are and what we are all about,” Scholz said. “We have a lot of fun events for our members to do.”

He said both his grandparents and parents were FFA members.

“I have always known about it and wanted to join,” Scholz said.

He said he always has had an interest in having a career in agriculture.

“I wanted to be part of an organization who shared similar goals and it was something I definitely wanted to be a part of,” Scholz said.

He was raised on a diversified family farming operation with crops and livestock.

“FFA has meant a lot for me,” Scholz said. “I have met a lot of friends and new people that I probably would not have met or gotten to know. It has allowed me to grow as a person and given me leadership qualities that I can use in the future.”

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