WEST ALEXANDRIA — A new project at Twin Valley Community Local Schools aims to recognize the hard work and dedication of past and present Future Farmers of America (FFA) members.
“The Handprint Project was originally something that a few of our alumni were in charge of,” recent Twin Valley South graduate and FFA member Liberty Chesney said. “It was presented to me as an optional project for my senior capstone course.”
The senior capstone requires prospective graduates to complete a number of projects throughout the year, according to Chesney, and the Handprint Project became one of hers.
The Ag Hallway leading to the FFA classroom at Twin Valley South is already decorated with the FFA emblem, according to Chesney, as well as blue and gold stripes which run along the upper portion of the wall.
“The idea behind the project was to utilize the empty space on the wall to honor past members of the Twin Valley South MVCTC FFA Chapter who had received their State and/or American Degrees, as well as members of Lanier and West Alexandria High School from before the joining of the two schools,” Chesney said.
Both State and American degrees require an incredible amount of time and effort, according to Chesney, and many FFA members strive to obtain such a high level of recognition. Getting in touch with the people in question didn’t initially appear to be an easy task, however.
“When I agreed to take over the project, I was given all the information they had on past recipients, which wasn’t much,” Chesney said. “Just a list of names and the years in which they’d received their degrees, along with a handful of phone numbers.”
The answer came through social media, according to Chesney.
“There wasn’t much to go on when trying to contact people, so I had to turn to Facebook to help me,” Chesney said. “My mom is much more active on there than I am, and with the help of many individuals sharing and tagging her post, I was able to reach a large majority of the recipients in a short period of time.”
Soon after her mother initially posted about the project, according to Chesney, responses started pouring in.
“After reading the post, many of them reached out to my mom, who then gave them my contact info so we could make appointments for them to come out to the school,” Chesney said.
Recipients were then asked to come into the Twin Valley South campus to put their handprints on the wall and take a few photos, according to Chesney.
“In the process, I was able to have many great conversations with the members and I learned a lot about what the FFA program was like when they were in high school, and how it has changed and grown over the years,” Chesney said. “It was also a fun way to see firsthand how agriculture remains such a present part of many of their lives. It was interesting to see where and how far their passion for agriculture has led them.”
Chesney plans to attend The University of Redlands in the fall, where she’ll major in environmental science.
“I’m not sure yet if I’ll continue to be involved in FFA, but it is likely that I will so that I can pursue my own State and American Degrees,” Chesney said.
While the Handprint Project partly serves to honor past FFA members, according to Chesney, it also has an impact on current students as well.
“I think it provides a great deal of inspiration and incentive for our younger members when they see the long row of handprints on the wall,” Chesney said. “While it takes a great deal of work to obtain your degree, the wall is a good reminder that it is an attainable feat. Seeing how we appreciate and recognize their efforts offers motivation and enthusiasm to our current FFA members.”
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish