Young students and staff at Barack Obama School of Leadership & STEM held a charter signing event with several members of the community, State Representative Davis, and FFA representatives to celebrate the first FFA charter in the Southland
Young students at Barack Obama School of Leadership & STEM, a 4th – 5th grade school in Park Forest – Chicago Heights School District 163, held a charter-signing event on campus December 9, 2021. The Barack Obama School of Leadership & STEM has an agriculture program that teaches young students the ins and outs of the agriculture industry.
According to the “Future Farmers of America” (FFA) website, a “FFA chapter may be chartered in any public school with an agricultural education program. Leadership is provided by student officers who are elected each year by the chapter’s members, and by the agriculture teacher who serves as the advisor for the chapter.”
SD 163, the Illinois Association FFA State President Adam Loker, and Treasurer Kara Freebairn were in attendance, as well as leaders of the Chicagoland FFA Section. They provided passionate remarks on leadership, agriculture, and their futures. Inaugural charter members signed the FFA Chapter Charter for display in the school.
Agricultural Education Program Advisor Luke Allen also spoke with the students and staff, remarking on the significance of the program. This FFA charter is the first charter at a middle school in the entire Chicagoland area, and is the only charter in the Southland. Following the event, Chicago-area FFA President Emily Lesko, joined State FFA Officers in presenting a leadership workshop for the students about establishing core values and setting goals.
District Superintendent Dr. Cal- etha White, Agriculture Teacher Piaget Felix, and State Representative Will Davis spoke to the students as well. Dr. White spoke of her childhood and visiting her grandparents on their farm. Rep. Davis discussed the importance of agriculture, especially in Illinois. He also mentioned that when he is in Springfield, he recognizes the blue jackets the FFA students wear and know they are there to lobby and educate the representatives on the agriculture industry.
The school’s entrance is adorned with a greenhouse and tower planters, showcasing the students’ projects in agriculture. A salad was available to sample made with greens grown and harvested by the young students. The greenhouse is complete with various peppers, vines, flowers, and other greenery growing.