Service projects bring holiday cheer to Big Valley FFA | News, sports, jobs

Service projects bring holiday cheer to Big Valley FFA |  News, sports, jobs

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Lily Brion, a second-year FFA member, plants tulip bulbs in a raised bed.

LEWISTOWN — The Big Valley FFA Chapter of the Mifflin County Academy of Science and Technology got its holiday celebration off to a great start with a pair of recent community service projects.

On November 14, seven Big Valley FFA members traveled to Back Mountain Floral Farm in Milroy, where they toured the facility before planting nearly 12,000 lavender bulbs in preparation for the spring growing season.

“I wanted to go to Back Mountain Floral Farm because I had the opportunity to do two things I enjoy; planting and helping others.” said Kendra Harlon, a second-year FFA member. “It would have taken longer to do this work on their own, so I’m glad we were able to help. Now I’m looking forward to the next community service project we do at FFA.”

Katie Aurand, owner of Back Mountain Floral Farm, certainly appreciated the extra helping hands, saying, “It was our pleasure to have students from the academy come to the farm to help plant annual tulip bulbs. The students helped plant nearly 12,000 One out of 18,000 bulbs for the Rabi 2024 crop.

“They also helped clean the tunnels and fields and were very enjoyable to work with.” she added.

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FFA members Hayley Carson (from left), Olivia Fisher, Kendra Harlon, Gabby Kurtz, Claudia Rehm, Lily Brion, and Brooke Jenkins plant bulbs at Back Mountain Floral Farm in Milroy.

Aurand is already eager to have FFA chapter members return in the spring.

“We plan to have them back in the spring of 2024 when the crop is thriving where they will learn to harvest, process and make retail packages.” Ourand explained. “I have personally found an incredible amount of enjoyment working alongside children and am excited for them to have the ‘bulb that goes boom’ experience.”

Additionally, another group of members packed more than 20 Thanksgiving meal kits on November 16 to donate to the Shelter Service of Mifflin and Juniata County. The goal of the meal kit campaign was to raise awareness of hunger and food insecurity in the region.

“I feel like our food drive was important because we are giving back to people in our community who need things like this.” Claudia Ream, junior FFA member, said:

Each kit contains boxes of mashed potatoes and filling, two canned vegetables, a drink mix, and a jelly or pudding.

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Juniors Alivia Snook (left) and Claudia Rehm pack Thanksgiving meal kits for the upcoming holiday.

The chapter began fundraising for the tools in mid-October, garnering support from students and staff. Agricultural sciences instructor Nicolette Cussat hopes the meal kit drive will become an annual tradition.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with Mifflin and Juniata Shelter Service to provide these meal kits to the community. They have agreed to donate the turkeys, as well as our kit to provide families with a complete holiday meal.” Cusat explained “Our chapter set a goal to donate 20 kits and we have exceeded it. I hope it becomes an annual event for us, and that we continue to exceed our goal again next year.”

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