Local farmers donate land, resources to FFA program

MADISON, Neb. - Farmers in northeast Nebraska are pitching in to expand an FFA program.

A land donation from local farmers in Madison is giving FFA students a chance to cover more ground.

"Last year they started with about an acre of soybeans and now we've been offered a few more acres to plant a few different crops that the kids can really get involved in," Kara Philips said. "So we're going to try some popcorn and some pumpkins and see how it goes."

Philips is the Agriculture Education teacher at Madison High School. She said the local recognition means a lot to the kids.

"I think it's really opened the eyes of the kids too, to see how much this community cares about the Ag Ed program," said Philips.

It's a program that's seen growth through the years with more than a dozen acres now under their supervision. 

The increase in acres means an increase in workload, but FFA Vice President Cattibrie Hysell said they are ready to get to work.

"I'm excited to see [what] we can do with these other products because this is the first year we've done something like this," Hysell said. 

Former FFA Treasurer, Albi Rodriguez played a big role in acquiring the new farmland, right before he graduated. 

"I talked with our local farmers to help arrange the plot...and now we just need to execute," said Rodriguez. 

Although Rodriguez won't be at the high school to reap the benefits of the new land, he said he'll be back to see the program's growth. 

"It's a shame that I'm still not here but my chapter ended here so now I have to continue on and it's great to look back," Rodriguez said. 

Rodriguez said he hopes the students will learn the significance of teamwork, a skill he is taking with him to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.

"It really taught me a lot about being a leader and times when you need a leader and being able to step up when you need to step up and how important and how crucial it is." 

The new crops will be a fundraiser for the FFA program. The school hopes to sell the "Dragon Fire Popcorn" at its concessions next Fall.