(This article was updated July 19 to change a name that was incorrect in information originally received from the National FFA Organization.)
INDIANAPOLIS — 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, Mo., rebuild their FFA chapter and operations.
A multiple-vortex twister killed more than 150 in the Joplin area on May 22. Classified an EF5, the most powerful of twisters that can sustain winds of more than 200 mph, the force 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 400 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 adviser.
“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 Chapter Challenge award to help the FFA students in Joplin.”
When the 2011-12 school year begins Aug. 17, students will attend school 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 adviser Jason Cutler. “This most likely means we won’t be allowed to salvage anything.”
You can help
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.