PLEASANT VIEW -- Some students at Weber High School have been spending their mornings in the school's greenhouse and it's paying off. Two FFA teams took top honors at the state competition and just traveled to Indiana for the national competition.
FFA, which was formerly known as Future Farmers of America, just goes by the acronym now so it can include a broader range of students and subjects, saidSClBMark Openshaw, FFA adviser for Weber High. His students are finding a lot of success in the plant part of FFA.
"Students in this area are more suburban and realize this is an area they can make a business out of," Openshaw said.
The Weber High FFA chapter has about 115 students. Those students compete in categories ranging from landscaping to animal science to parliamentary procedure. This year was the first time in several years that any team qualified for the national competition. The two teams, landscaping and agronomy, didn't have high national finishes, but Openshaw is optimistic.
"We are learning the ropes," he said, referring to national competition. The agronomy team just won the state competition again in October and will go to the national competition next fall.
Junior CrystaFaye Peterson is one of those students who will compete nationally. She loves agronomy, which is the science and economics of crop production.
"My friends inspired me to come along," Peterson said of FFA, and she has no regrets. She has enjoyed what she has learned in FFA and hopes to put it to good use in a career.
Senior Carlie Jo Hunke competed at the national level in October.
"It was the best experience I have ever had," Hunke said of the competition. She loved learning new things and also knows she wants to pursue landscaping as a career. She lives in Ogden Valley and sees lots of opportunities for a good career there.
"I love to play in the dirt and I love working with flowers," Hunke said.
She plans to compete in the floriculture category at the state level this spring because once teams have won they cannot compete together as a team again and have to find a new category.
Openshaw has been impressed with the dedication of his students. Their FFA is smaller than Fremont High School's to the west, but he likes how both schools have their own specialties.
"For a lot of our students it's not natural to belong to this organization so they have to really want to be here," Openshaw said.
Sara Garner has learned a lot that she feels she can apply in her life whether she chooses a career in the field or not.
"I never knew a plant would grow from a cutting," she said. "I can use these skills even in my own garden."
Openshaw expects the success of the club to grow with its latest two state wins. He's glad the students have a wide variety in which they can choose to participate.
He noted that for a long time FFA was all about farming, but the organization decided it needed to give its students more practical skills in the business world as well. He thinks that has helped his students.
"They can learn how to speak in a city council meeting and know what to expect there," he said of the students learning parliamentary procedure and giving presentations, a category in which his students excel.
Junior Zach Clifford has also enjoyed his experience in FFA and he said it all comes down to the FFA creed for him.
"It's like the creed, better days for better ways."