Students stand up for FFA

FFA students Travis Roe, Tyler Roe and Jacob Langreck talk about the benefits of the program.

Members of Crestwood FFA came to the May 23 Howard-Winneshiek Community School District’s Board of Education meeting to show how important the program is to them and implore the board to continue supporting the class.

During the recent budget cuts, the instructor’s out-of-class hours (for contests, fair and misc.) were cut, alarming the students enough to speak on behalf of the FFA.

Dillon Martinek explained there are 234 FFA Chapters in Iowa with 13,000 members. Kaytlan Langreck added those members had 670,000 unpaid hours of Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE). She said, “The motto is Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.”

Jacob Langreck spoke about the contests and how important those are to being a well-rounded teen. “The Crestwood Chapter is getting good ratings.”

Travis Roe wanted to commend Instructor Mike Adams on his dedication to the program over the last four years. “Our FFA was in the top 10 in three contests at state!”

Tyler Roe commented students learn a lot about leadership.

Some of the activities the group is involved with include farm safety camp, adopt a highway clean-up program, fruit sales, spring and fall flower sales and more.

Jackie Meyer spoke with the most passion. She understands there is a financial crisis in the district but wanted the board to know how important FFA is to her. “It made a huge change in my life. And it made a difference in my cousin’s life after I talked to her about it.” She contended the skills learned in FFA last a lifetime and help with many professions. She compared it to football. “Football players don’t usually go into that as a profession, but FFA helps in a lot of professions.”

Wayne Mlady, a 1972 Crestwood graduate, also defended FFA. He mentioned in the 1970s FFA boasted 130 members. Membership has declined, but so has class size. “We’ve had some stumbling blocks with some advisors, but we are an ag community and we need to keep this in mind.”

He named several successful businessmen who have FFA to thank for giving them the tools to become pillars of the community including Dale Schwade, Dave Sovereign, Vobr and Keune. “In closing, if FFA continues to be shortened up, you might be eliminating the next Dr. Borlaug.”

Superintendent Dianne Anderson agreed with the group. She has talked with Mr. Adams and knows FFA is about more than just agriculture.


Anderson then recognized the board members for Iowa School Board Recognition Week (May 8-13) by presenting them with plants grown by FFA. “People don’t realize what they go through. It is a very demanding position.” She also joked about their pay, which is zero.

Silver Cord

Libby Schwade and Julie Hughes gave an update on the nationally-renown Silver Cord program. Schwade explained it started 15 months ago at Crestwood when a group of teachers got together trying to come up with ways to promote volunteerism. The Silver Cord program encourages students in high school to volunteer for 40 hours each of the four years in school for a total of 160. If they reach the goal, they wear silver cords at graduation. 2011 was the first graduating class for the program.

Schwade said 28 percent, or 27, of the 2011 graduating class participated logging 1,435 hours. Class of 2012 has 19 participants (16 percent) with a total of 1,606.5 hours. Class of 2013 has 22 students or 20 percent with 1,660 hours and the Class of 2014 has 25 students or 20 percent with 2,188. One student in the Class of 2014 already has her required hours to graduate!

“Those percentages are pretty good,” Schwade explains. “Mason City only has 10-15 percent participating and Charles City had just eight of 96 participating.”

Wisdom & Wellness

It was learned Cresco will have the summer program which has taken place in Elma and Lime Springs-Chester for the past several years. The elementaries need to have 50 percent of their meals free or reduced to qualify for the free food program. Those eligible for the meals are age infant through 18. The schools also have classes for the students.

Parking Lot

Much of the rest of the meeting was spent discussing the paving project in front of the Cresco Elementary and Junior High building.

Board member Jeff Murphy said, “I’m for spending locally,” when deciding how far out to advertise for the project.


~ In other business, the board decided to not be the middle man at the junior high for the yearbooks. They will be sold exclusively by the publishing company.

~ Several fees for school for 2011-2012 were raised including the adult activity ticket and a tech fee.

~ Some changes were made to the wording of the K-8 handbook, which will be convenient for parents to see what to expect as their child moves up the grades.

~ A discussion was held on getting some deadening panels for the junior high/elementary cafeteria. Todd Knobloch described, “The sound echo in there is a five. A 1.5 is good.

The next board meeting will be June 27.



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