Photo providedHamilton Southeastern/Fishers FFA will serve a ham-and-bean fundraiser dinner From 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday at Wayne-Fall Lions Club in Noblesville.
Photo provided

Hamilton Southeastern/Fishers FFA will serve a ham-and-bean fundraiser dinner From 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday at Wayne-Fall Lions Club in Noblesville.

I encourage you to take note of any blue corduroy jackets you see during this National FFA Week.

With National Blue and Corn Gold the official FFA colors, the jacket is an American icon representing faith, honor and pride of membership in FFA, formerly known as Future Farmers of America.

As Hoosiers, we celebrate the 90th National FFA Convention & Expo coming this October in Indianapolis.

In Hamilton County, FFA chapters in Hamilton Southeastern/Fishers, Sheridan and Hamilton Heights school districts, join FFA chapters across the nation, during this National FFA Week, which continues through Saturday, to increase FFA awareness in their communities, with school spirit week/dress-up days, community breakfasts and other events.

In Noblesville, there isn't an FFA chapter, however, when HSE's FFA reporter Adam Schreck and Wayne-Fall Lion Dave Barker both contacted me about promoting a collaborative ham and bean dinner this weekend in Noblesville, I was glad to do so.

Wayne-Fall Lions are partnering with the HSE/Fishers FFA for dinner from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday at the Lions Club, 11940 E. 191st St., Noblesville. It's about three miles east of Indiana 37 at the intersection of Deshane Avenue.

About 20-30 FFA members will help set up, work and break down the dinner and will receive a portion of the free-will donations. Members will take orders, prepare food, serve guests, wash dishes and serve desserts. The menu features ham and beans, cornbread, coleslaw, desserts and drinks, plus hot dogs are available.

"This event is an awesome fundraiser for us, and we have been so fortunate to have the Wayne-Fall Lions Club host us for so many years," said Claire Baney, the chapter's president. "We really looking forward to this event and would like to encourage the community to come out to show their support for not only our chapter but FFA as a whole."

HSE agriculture teacher Tom Younts is the chapter adviser and is in his 40th year teaching at HSE, where the chapter started before he came to the district in 1977. Every summer since 1990, he has worked with FFA members and alumni at the annual Fishers Freedom Festival, roasting and selling roasted corn, annually about 3,000 ears with proceeds benefiting FFA and camps. Last year, I even saw Younts and FFA members working at the Indiana State Fair Dairy Bar.

"We love having him as a teacher," Baney said. Younts has led FFA members in various events this year, such as attending the National FFA Convention & Expo in October in Indianapolis, hosting their 13th annual Donkey Basketball fundraiser that benefits the Carrie Colglazier Scholarship, as well as the chapter's Greenhand Initiation for new members, chapter winter banquet, in addition to this Saturday's ham and bean dinner. A new adviser, Samantha Miller, also joined the chapter, helping establish a relationship with a district elementary to educate kindergarteners about agriculture.

"Over the past year, we have helped this elementary classroom expand their garden and outdoor learning area while teaching them about agriculture principles focused on plant systems," Baney said. "This has created a fun, new opportunity for our chapter that our members are happy to be a part of."

Baney, a senior, has been in FFA throughout high school. "FFA has been an integral part of my high school career and has impacted my life in numerous ways. I became involved in FFA because I had a heart for agriculture even though I wasn't raised on a farm. But I wanted to know more," she said. "Because of FFA, I've learned about servant leadership and how to exert that philosophy in my own school and community, and I've been exposed to agricultural education, which has led me to have a better understanding of what goes on in the industry so that I can live my dream."

Today, her family raises livestock on an acreage on the outskirts of Fishers. Baney said, "FFA has the power to change students' lives because of the opportunities that are offered which can catapult students forward by growing leaders that will greatly impact the upcoming generation."

This year, her FFA chapter became an affiliate chapter, so all students enrolled in any agricultural course are technically FFA members, growing membership to more than 200 at HSE, Baney said.

Around the county at other Hamilton County FFA chapters, National FFA Week is also being celebrated.

Agriculture teacher Scott Ison is adviser for Sheridan FFA, which sponsored a Drive Your Tractor to School Day, petting zoo for elementary kids and other dress-up days, culminating with an appreciation breakfast this morning. The chapter annually sells fresh fruit and puts on a pork loin dinner for the community.

Hamilton Heights, for which agriculture teacher Emilie Carson is in her first year as FFA adviser, kicked off the celebration last week with Indiana State FFA officers joining for Farmer Olympics at the school. This week began with "Church with the Chapter's President" at Arcadia Church of the Brethren, camouflage dress-up day, "Thank a Farmer Day" during which students drove their tractors to school and dressed like farmers, and Throwback Thursday. Members this week also enjoyed visits to Laser Flash in Carmel, Bowl 32 and had a movie/pitch-in night, with a Community Appreciation Breakfast from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday at Hamilton Heights High School Cafeteria.

Heights FFA is known for its annual Pumpkin Patch weekends in October, with proceeds from pumpkin sales, fall decorations and hay rides going to the chapter. This year, the patch may move to a more visible location. Carson said, "The pumpkin patch is a long-standing tradition that we want to keep around as long as our community continues their strong support."

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