paola ffa truck

Shown with the new truck Paola FFA will have the use of are chapter members Shaylan Ennis, Matthew Brandt, Haley Thomas, Charlie Peckman and Kraig Kettler.

When Jeff Hines took over as the Paola FFA Chapter advisor five years ago he knew he had his work cut out for him.

“I was excited to jump start this program when I got here,” Hines explains.

He began by getting the students interested in contests and all the opportunities FFA has to offer them.

“I didn’t want to be one of those chapters or advisors that focused solely on contests though,” he says.

According to Hines, the first year was really hard and he felt he was literally begging kids to get involved in FFA.

Now, just a short five years later, Hines knows all his and the kids’ hard work has paid off.

“We had 95 students in our chapter last year and we are at full capacity in all of our classes,” Hines explains. “The growth is really exciting.”

Hines doesn’t take all the credit for the chapter growth though.

He will be the first to say without the help of advisor Josh Evans and without good kids he would still be working on chapter growth.

Although the increasing size of the chapter is exciting for both Hines and Evans, they are even more excited with the educational growth of the chapter members.

“In five years we’ve had seven kids get full-ride judging scholarships to community colleges,” Hines says.

In addition to that the Paola FFA Chapter has had eight students receive National FFA scholarships in the last three years.

Good advising is the key to success in any chapter, however, Hines and Evans say they started seeing the changes in their program as soon as they knew the students were buying into it.

“The kids are the ambassadors for this program,” Evans says. “They are the motivators.”

When it comes to contests, the Paola FFA Chapter has won its share of accolades.

“We are good at meats judging and farm management but we have also won in a number of other areas,” Hines explains.

Some of the other areas the Paola chapter has done well in include:

•Food science

•Horse judging

•Dairy cattle

•Poultry

“We play off our strengths and what we are good at,” Hines says.

In addition to working from their strengths, in contests both Hines and Evans try to balance their program out the best they can.

“We have tried to offer everything agricultural education has to offer,” Hines explains.

That balance is possibly the reason the Paola chapter recently earned one of their biggest accomplishments.

That accomplishment was having five kids win scholarships from the National FFA Foundation this year.

“We had the most scholarships out of any school in Kansas,” Hines explains. “That is a huge accomplishment for the chapter and for the kids.”

The reward for such a feat is a big one—the use of a brand new Ford F-250 pick-up for two years.

According to Hines only one chapter, out of 7,200 chapters in the nation receives this honor each year.

“We are the second chapter in Kansas to ever win this honor,” he says.

Even though Hines and Evans pride their kids on their academic strengths these scholarships are not based on GPA.

“The scholarships these students won had more to do with their SAEs and FFA involvement then their GPA,” he explains.

After receiving the truck the chapter added FFA stickers to the doors of the truck signifying what a huge accomplishment this was.

“We use the truck for SAE farm visits, ag teacher conferences and we use it in parades.

Hines and Evans attribute all of the success of their chapter to their kids but the students know without the hours and involvement of their advisors that success isn’t possible.

This is emphasized in the thoughts that Matt Brandt, who recently graduated from Paola, shared.

“FFA helped me find my niche in life,” Brandt says. “Being able to see how much impact a teacher and a program can make on your life is pretty amazing.”

According to him it is easy to brag on both of his advisors.

“Mr. Hines and Mr. Evans are great teachers. Actually, they are more like friends then teachers,” he says.

After spending four years in FFA, an officer for three, president one and a member of the ‘05 national meats judging team, Brandt has decided to attend college and become an ag teacher.

“I think being a teacher can help me help others find their niche.”













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