North Iredell Middle School students and staff, along with representatives from the N.C. Future Farmers of America chapter, celebrated the chartering of the first-ever FFA chapter at the school earlier this week.

“Agriculture impacts everyone regardless of what your interests in life are,” explained North Middle FFA advisor Karleigh Hall. “I want students to dive into career exploration and start building the skills they need for whatever job they want to go into — even if it has nothing to do with agriculture.”

Hall, a first-year teacher, grew up in Iredell County. She was an active member of the FFA at South Iredell High School.

She said that her experience helped pushed her to a career as an Ag teacher in Iredell-Statesville Schools. She wants students to have the same opportunities to experience agriculture education and FFA.

“A big part of an agriculture education program is the FFA. You bring in not only the classroom instruction, but the FFA which brings in the leadership side of things. Students are also required to do projects that bring in real-world career exploration experience,” Hall said.

“Without those three things, then that model is not complete,” she added.

FFA emphasizes the importance of leadership. Students learn life lessons for situations that will likely occur in their future regardless of the career path they choose, Hall said.

Exposing students to leadership skills at a younger age will give them an advantage as they enter into high school. Also, the northern end of Iredell County is also a big agriculture community so it will feed into the high school program, she added.

FFA is a student-led organization. Students have opportunities to compete against other schools, with competitions ranging from livestock judging to quiz bowl events.

“Many of our students don’t play sports, they aren’t in Scouts and don’t have a youth group and they need something to be a part of. This is a great organization. They are building friendships, partnerships and networking, and it’s a great program for our north Iredell community,” Principal Tonya Houpe said.

During Tuesday’s chartering ceremony, North Middle’s FFA officers welcomed guests and conducted a short program. Students also heard from the state team of FFA officers, who are college students that are selected each year. A total of 50 North Middle students signed the FFA charter.

Special guests at the ceremony included Western Regional Agriculture Coordinator Andy Von Cannon, State FFA Coordinator Carmen Bracey, the state team of FFA officers, I-SS CTE Director Tim Woody and I-SS Middle School Coordinator Juli Tipton.

The North Middle FFA officers are for the 2021-22 school year are:
• President: Anna Wright
• Vice President: Bailey May
• Secretary: Maylin Chenevey
• Reporter: Sarah Dishman
• Sentinel: Sam Cornett
• Chaplain: Eli Christopher