West Virginia FFA breaks state membership record again

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west virignia ffa state officers group photo
The 2018-19 West Virginia FFA state officers oversaw staggering membership growth. (West Virginia FFA).

West Virginia FFA membership broke state records for a second year in a row, growing by 1,100 students in the last year.

FFA membership in the 2018-19 school year swelled to 6,469 members in 83 local chapters statewide, FFA leaders announced July 10 at the 91st West Virginia FFA Convention.

That’s a growth of about 20% over the 2017-18 membership of 5,360, which was the first time the West Virginia FFA broke state membership records since 1963.

“A lot of things came together to make us explode in growth,” said Nathan Taylor, executive secretary for West Virginia FFA. “We’ve got a special thing going.”

About 10 new chapters were chartered in the last year, he said. More chapters are at 100% membership through the National FFA Affiliation program. Fewer chapters had a decrease in enrollment.

“Most remained stable or increased slightly,” Taylor said.

Agriculture education is the fastest growing program in career technical education over the past several years, Taylor said. Part of that is due to the “tremendous ag teachers and great curriculum,” he said.

The 2018 West Virginia Teacher of the Year was Katlin Thorsell, an agriculture teacher from Washington High School in Jefferson County.

“A lot of people want strong FFA chapters, and to do that you need to have a strong ag ed program,” Taylor said.

In West Virginia, student agricultural enterprises contribute approximately $5.5 million to the state’s economy. Students learn in hands-on environments called supervised agricultural experiences.

According to career technical education data, 54 percent of these experiences evolve into student entrepreneurial endeavors.

(Reporter Rachel Wagoner can be contacted at 800-837-3419 or rachel@farmanddairy.com.)

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Rachel is a reporter with Farm and Dairy and a graduate of Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She married a fourth-generation beef and sheep farmer and settled down in her hometown in Beaver County. Before coming to Farm and Dairy, she worked at several daily and weekly newspapers throughout Western Pennsylvania covering everything from education and community news to police and courts.

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