The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Busting Out the Corduroy at Illini West

by: Mitch Worley, Special For The Quill

Students in a community near you are going to be blocking traffic by driving tractors to school, bringing a vast array of domesticated animals ranging from pigs to llamas to school, and sporting some sweet corduroy jackets throughout the week of January 16th-23rd.

That's right; the entire nation will be covered in National Blue and Corn Gold all next week for National FFA Week. FFA Chapters all across the nation will be celebrating time honored traditions established for the celebration of National FFA Week not only at the National level, but ones that have become a staple within local chapters as well.

This week is a culmination of several things, but for the most part is a great opportunity for FFA members to show off their hard work and achievements from the year, as well as having some down home, country fun.

As the students will have Monday off from school, they will commence FFA Week on Tuesday. That first day of FFA Week at Illini West will be spent for Greenhand Day, which is an initiation of younger FFA members, Wednesday is Teacher's Appreciation Day with FFA members making meals for the faculty, Thursday brings Tractor and Truck Day where members will drive tractors and big farm trucks to school for everyone to see, and Friday will serve as the biggest day for FFA Week, capping it off with Barnyard Days.

Barnyard Days will entail a celebration at the University of Illinois Extension Center that will include a Petting Zoo and many fun activities that will teach younger students about Ag Mechanics, Ag Sales, Ag Science, Horticulture and other agriculturally related endeavors to try to get the younger generations interested in agriculture. All the local daycare centers in the Illini West area have been invited to attend the daylong event, as well as Carthage, La Harpe, and Dallas City Elementary Schools.

Illini West has spent a bulk of this year gaining its own new identity by beginning new traditions in everything from football to Student Council, with the FFA being no exception of the rule.

Sam DeCounter is the man that is responsible for spearheading this endeavor and so far it's working extremely well. When asked about the year to date success for the newly formed chapter Mr. DeCounter said, "They've all done very well and so far we've been pretty successful in all the events we've participated in."

Much like sports, strength lies in numbers in terms of success at Career Development Events, also known as CDEs, for FFA. The more prospects you have to choose from to participate in an event, the greater the likelihood you will be successful at a contest. Illini West had a great turn out for FFA members having about 150 members in the chapter's inaugural year, which has contributed to their success so far. Sam stated that, "In putting 500 kids at one school, not everybody is going to play football, basketball, and the other sports, so there are still a lot of kids that want to be competitive and joined FFA." In all of the events Illini West has competed in so far this year, they've been extremely successful with finishes at or near the top.

The solid start Illini West is off to what appears to be more than beginners luck with such a solid core of officers, lead by President Lindsey Pollock, and an extremely motivated group of underclassmen will continue this fast start long into the future.

A good schedule of events will also help further propel Illini West to an upper echelon FFA Chapter and it seems like that will be the case with there being an event seemingly right around the corner all throughout the school year with events at the Section and State level in CDEs ranging from Livestock, Dairy, Horse and other types of judging to Parliamentary Procedure competitions.

Capping off this busy schedule this year is the bread and butter to most FFA programs. State Livestock and Dairy Judging will be coming up in April, and the chapter's Inaugural FFA Banquet will be coming up in May.

Illini West is off to a great start so far and with several events left to finish this year, this will be an FFA program that is sure to get the attention of all others in this area, as well as all throughout the state.