Agriculture is one of the most modest and rewarding professions one can have. It takes patience, sacrifice, and compassion for other creatures. These qualities teach all individuals the importance of life. That is why, just before school starts we are featuring the Mineral Wells FFA program for all their accomplishments, hard work, and community compassion.
The Mineral Wells FFA program currently has two hundred and four members with three advisors. The program is run by teachers Beth and Beau Stutts. Beth tells us about their background and experience with the program itself. “Mr. Stutts and I have been teaching for fifteen years, and nine of those are in Mineral Wells ISD. We met at Tarleton State University while earning a degree in Agriculture Education. We have taught agriculture together at three different school districts and really enjoy being able to work together.” Their passion for teaching this wonderful art form is inspiring.
Beth elaborates on the process of becoming a member of this outstanding program. “Essentially, we offer three pathways within the agriculture department. We have Mr. Stutts who teaches the animal science pathway including Livestock Production, Advanced Animal Science, and a Veterinary Technician Program. I teach the Plant Science pathway including Introduction to Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Horticulture Science, and Floral Design. For the 2021-2022 school year we have hired an additional agriculture science teacher. Mr. Kurt Henry will teach the Agriculture Mechanics and welding pathway.”
The students must also have a Supervised Agriculture Experience Project during the school year. Beth elaborates on what this project entails. “An SAE is a project that is caring for livestock animals such as a pig, goat, sheep, cattle, rabbit, and broilers. Another option is a horticulture project which is a container plant or floral arrangement. Or a welding project or a research project. Mr. Stutts oversees the Cattle and Pig projects, I oversee the Broiler and Rabbit projects, and Mr. Henry will oversee the sheep and goat projects.”
Mrs.Stutts was proud to announce that the FFA broke ground on a new Agriculture Livestock Facility. She tells us about the freedoms this new building will bring to its students. “This will give opportunities to students who may not otherwise have the ability to raise a livestock project at their home. The new facility will be on the high school campus where the students will have access to their animals before and after school. And we as ag teachers will have the opportunity to oversee and advise the students on a daily basis with the care and exercise of their animals.”
Students begin their projects during the summer break by participating in the Texas FFA State Convention. But their work is just opening for these young adults because they will also take part in FFA meetings, fundraisers, community service projects, a local livestock show, leadership competition opportunities, and an end of the year banquet according to Mrs. Stutts. During her interview, she gives us insight into the near future. “For the 2021-2022 school year Mineral Wells FFA has ten student officers and one District FFA Officer. We compete in district, area, and state competitions each year. These competitions include speaking events, leadership events, career development events. Also, we had one student-run for Area FFA Officer and one run for District FFA Officer. At the end of each year; ten student officers are elected to lead the organization. The National FFA Organization is the largest student lead organization in the United States. And the officers this past year were President Ryan Roach, Vice President Beth Ethridge, and the Secretary/Treasurer is Lindsey Wells.”
They are also hosting/participating in events coming up very soon such as the livestock shows in August and in November. Beth elaborates on their importance by telling us these events will help raise money in order to purchase animal projects at the Palo Pinto County Livestock Show in January. In addition to raising these funds, the students who are successful will have the chance to earn a premium check during the Livestock Show Sale.
But this program does more than just projects for themselves, but also this community. Beth was proud to list the things her students engage in all year round. “We participate in the Homecoming parade and the Rodeo Parade. We helped pass out water during the winter storm. Additionally, we wrap presents for Tommy’s Angels, assist at Field Days and Career Days at the Elementary Schools, work the video cameras at the rodeo, canned food drives….etc.”
The FFA program has a bright and exciting future ahead of them. She lastly tells us about their hopes as well as the importance of this program for these young adults. “Beau and I are so excited about the future of Mineral Wells FFA and the Agriculture Science Program. This has been a year of true growth in the amount of FFA members, the approval from the School Board to build a brand-new livestock facility. The need, and ability to hire a 3rd agriculture teacher. Also, we attribute that to the fact that we are creating a student-centered. For example, this program is dedicated to enhancing the student’s leadership skills, speaking skills, community involvement, school spirit, and pride. By pushing them to try new things as well as getting involved. I think people are recognizing the FFA members, FFA Advisors, and the Young Farmers group and their work throughout the year. We are attracting students from other districts and adding new members to the program often.”
Writer | I graduated from Weatherford College with an Associates in Art, focusing on history, creative writings, sociology, and humanities. Experience in child development, client care, and runs local Spoken Word Poetry group for young teens.