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FFA Charter at Otto-Eldred is the first in McKean County

DUKE CENTER — When students at Otto-Eldred Junior-Senior High School were awarded the official FFA Charter on Monday, organizers realized that the honor would open doors for the campus to become part of the National FFA organization.

Brandon Witmer, the school’s agricultural science teacher and FFA advisor, said that becoming a chapter, however, was an honor.

“This presentation was nothing short of incredible. I could not be more proud of all of our students,” Witmer stated. “This would not be possible if it wasn’t for their passion and interest in FFA. I can’t wait to continue to work with our students and community members to continue to grow our new chapter. We are the only active FFA chapter in McKean County and the newest chapter in Pennsylvania. This really is a big deal.”

Witmer noted that in order to become a chapter, they had to prove that the school is following the three-circle model of Agriculture Education.

“Circle one was classroom instruction,” he said. “Otto-Eldred has offered six high school level agriculture science classes and two middle school classes this year. With the goal to offer more classes in the future.”

Circle two was Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) projects.

“SAE projects are a critical part of a successful agriculture science program,” Witmer continued. “These projects allow students to explore any career interest they might have and make it a project by getting credit from the school. These projects can take place inside or outside of school and can be from any content area. Students can complete entrepreneurial projects like creating soaps and candles, research-based projects like researching plant growth in different soil media, or placement projects where students actually have a job or internship and complete academic standards while gaining the experience in their position.”

Witmer said the third and final circle is FFA.

“This has been the first year of FFA in the school and we have an active membership of nearly 50 students,” he commented. “Since we met all the necessary requirements, we were awarded our FFA charter. The Pennsylvania FFA state officer team, along with Mike Brammer, executive Director of Pennsylvania FFA, visited Otto-Eldred from Harrisburg, for the charter presentation.” He said the school had 150 students, teachers, administration, school board members and occupational advisory members present for the presentation.

On a final note, Witmer said the awarding of the official FFA Charter made Otto-Eldred the 146th FFA chapter in Pennsylvania.

“We are always looking for new ways to get our students and classes involved in the community. The opening line of the FFA creed states, ‘I believe in the future of agriculture,’” he stated.”Here at Otto-Eldred, I believe in the future of agriculture in our community because of these students.”

Nathan Schuessler, student FFA president at Otto-Eldred also weighed in on the honor.

“Receiving our charter is a huge honor and an amazing achievement,” Schuessler said. “Being a part of the other 145 FFA chapters in Pennsylvania is a major accomplishment. It will allow our FFA Chapter in small Otto-Eldred to grow to new heights. Strengthening our agriculture programs and agricultural activities in our community will definitely be occurring in the near future, a future we are very excited to see.”

For more information on the FFA at Otto-Eldred, contact Witmer at bwitmer@ottoeldred.org.

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