Girard USD 248’s FFA chapter has grown into the third largest in the state, and during FFA Week this week, its 140 members are participating in group and community activities to celebrate their club.

Girard USD 248’s FFA chapter has grown into the third largest in the state, and during FFA Week this week, its 140 members are participating in group and community activities to celebrate their club.

The week’s activities started on Saturday with an FFA dodgeball tournament in Fredonia. Students also served guests at the Crawford County Conservation District’s soil conservation banquet that night. On Sunday, around 40 students participated in an FFA church service, and on Wednesday, students visited the Producer’s Co-op Appreciation Day at Saint Michael’s Hall to check out new products and help set up and tear down afterward.

“This is a good way to spread awareness and let people know what we’re all about,” FFA president Kenzie Curran said. “It also rewards our members with activities and shows the community how much we appreciate them by doing different things.”

The students are serving a faculty breakfast early Wednesday morning, and on Thursday, if they wear their FFA uniform — a corduroy blazer and FFA shirt — they get to leave school early. On Friday, police officers will block off the east parking lot so students can drive their tractors to school.

With 140 members, Girard’s FFA is the third largest in Kansas. Advisor Alan Boultinghouse said the rise in popularity could be attributed to the fact that the club is in a pilot program with five other chapters this year that allows sponsors to pay fees for students if they’re enrolled in an agriculture class.

“It used to be that the kids paid membership fees each year, but this will allow their dues to be paid for them,” Boultinghouse said. “I think this is a really good program.”

Additionally, in a club that the average person might guess is dominated by male students, half of the members are female. Boultinghouse said the girls enjoy the leadership and speech programs more than the boys. Curran, who wants to earn a degree in agriculture education and be a teacher and FFA advisor, agreed.

“There are a lot of team activities, and you get to network and meet a lot of people who can help you get where you want to go,” Curran said. “It helps you prepare for careers in agriculture, which is definitely a plus.”