A Missouri high school FFA chapter that received a first-place prize in a recent regional competition has donated its winnings to help students in tornado-ravaged Joplin rebuild their FFA chapter and technology center.
A multiple-vortex twister hit Joplin on May 22. The EF-5 tornado carved a six-mile long, mile-wide path through the town of 49,000, destroying Joplin High School and 11 other school buildings. Franklin Technology Center operated by the school's FFA chapter was one of the destroyed structures.
Just three days before the Joplin disaster, an FFA chapter some 270 miles north learned it was among the top winners of an FFA competition sponsored by Monsanto. Princeton R-V High School's FFA chapter received a first-place $1,500 credit line prize in the inaugural FFA Chapter Challenge, a pilot competition that encouraged FFA chapters in seven states to forge new relationships with area farmers in turn for their online votes of support. The credit line can be used to buy FFA jackets, chapter banquet supplies, chapter medals and awards and fund trips to FFA functions.
"We were proud of our accomplishment and very grateful to FFA and Monsanto, but after what happened in Joplin, I spoke with my chapter officers and we felt that donating our winnings to Joplin High School's FFA chapter was the right thing to do," said Bryan Williams, Princeton's FFA advisor. "We talked about what we would do if such a disaster happened here and what our needs would be. We determined that the best way we could help is to give our award to help the FFA students in Joplin."
When the 2011-12 school year begins Aug. 17, Joplin High School students will attend classes at a local shopping mall. Efforts to rebuild Joplin's FFA chapter are under way.
"We don't know what we have left and what we can salvage. We have been ordered not to enter our facilities since they are hazardous areas," said Joplin High School FFA advisor Jay Jackman. "This most likely means we won't be allowed to salvage anything."
The Joplin FFA chapter is accepting financial donations to help rebuild its program. Donations can be made by check made out to "Joplin FFA" with "Joplin FFA tornado recovery" in the memo line and sent to Joplin FFA c/o Joplin schools, Attn: Kim Vann, 102 Gray Ave., Joplin, Mo. 64801.
"What an exceptional act of kindness and support," said National FFA Foundation executive director Rob Cooper when hearing of the Princeton FFA chapter's decision. "FFA teaches students core values of integrity, service and innovation and these values were remarkably demonstrated by the Princeton chapter's decision to help their neighboring FFA chapter obliterated by such a tragic natural disaster."
John Raines, vice president of customer advocacy at Monsanto, echoes Cooper's praise. "We are committed to sponsoring programs that support FFA chapters and students," he said. "This donation to Joplin embodies the kind of goodwill we are hoping to spread among those in the agricultural community."
Source: National FFA Organization