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Outstanding Chapter: Lincoln FFA

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Originally appearing in the February edition of the FFA New Horizons magazine of the National FFA Organization Outstanding Chapter: Lincoln FFA Within the heart of the ever-developing city of Lincoln, California lies Lincoln High School. Established in 1907, Lincoln High School has been blessed with an agriculture department since 1955 and is still going strong today. Lincoln High School has a student population of about 1,500 students. Approximately 400 of those students are enrolled in some sort of Agricultural course this year. On the high school campus, agricultural courses include Ag Science I, Ag Leadership, Ag Metals and Ornamental Horticulture. But that’s not all. At Lincoln High School, the phrase “hands on learning” is taken quite literally. Courses such as Ag Science II, Agricultural Biology, Natural History, Water Quality and Conservation, Agricultural Economics and Government and Farm Power, are held each day at the 405-acre Lincoln High School Agricultural and Environmental Science Academy. Each day, students enrolled in these courses are transported a short 15 minutes out into the rural Lincoln countryside and attend class at the Lincoln High School Farm. These courses have allowed students to meet many graduation and college entrance requirements while maintaining their focus in agriculture. The centerpiece for the LHS Ag Program is the 405-acre school farm facility. The property was acquired as surplus property from McClellan Air Force Base in 1976. Improvements have been made slowly over the years as funding has allowed. Today, the farm features three classrooms, a science lab, a large shop, hay barn, livestock facilities, orchard, pheasant brood strip, garden beds, organic rice, permanent pasture and natural wetlands. Students gain valuable hands-on skills working with the farm’s cattle, sheep and hogs, growing winter vegetables, growing oat hay, monitoring wood duck boxes and raising trout. Additionally, students are also responsible for the monitoring of 225 acres of conservation easements. The school farm is also a popular destination for elementary schools and community groups. Farm students interact monthly with one of our feeder elementary schools, leading age-appropriate lessons centered on agriculture. Lincoln students lead tours for over 500 elementary students throughout the year as well as garden clubs and Rotary members. Lincoln High students also plant and maintain a two-acre pumpkin patch with the help of local elementary schools. The annual LHS Farm “Open House” is open to the community and draws around 200 people. Hayride tours of our natural wetlands and organic rice fields are always a popular part of the tours. The Lincoln FFA strives to remain a positive organization in the Lincoln community in a time where many ag departments are threatened by budget cuts. Lincoln FFA members promote their program by giving presentations to organizations like the Rotary, Kiwanis Club, School Board and Farm Bureau. Each year, Lincoln High hosts the Placer Grown Conference, and last spring, the Lincoln Farm was a designated stop on the Placer County Farm Tour. Lincoln FFA members also provide petting zoos with their SAE projects at local middle schools, elementary schools and churches. FFA members also help at community events like planting trees at a local dog park, serving at the local Farm Bureau dinner and the Placer county Farm and Barn Tour. The chapter also sponsors four blood drives in conjunction with Blood Source on the high school campus each year. This year, the chapter is planning a countywide “Fun Fair” where 4-H members can bring their fair projects out to the Lincoln Farm and attend workshops on showing and fitting their fair animals. The Lincoln FFA also works hard to promote their program at the high school as well. Events such as the Bowl- A- Thon, after school BBQs, the annual Kiss the Pig Contest and Tractor Pull always seem to earn the chapter much needed recognition. The Lincoln FFA Color Guard participates in the Homecoming parade and the city of Lincoln 4th of July and Christmas Parade. Each year, the Lincoln FFA competes in many contests including Opening and Closing Ceremonies, BIG, Farm Records, Job Interview, Prepared Public Speaking, Creed, Farm Power, Agriscience Fair, Horse Judging, Forestry Challenge and Project Competition at the local and sectional level. Lincoln FFA members also compete for many proficiency awards and, last year, one student won a Proficiency in Beef Entrepreneurship for the Superior Region. And the Lincoln FFA is proud to say they have a Sierra Buttes Sectional Officer representing their chapter this year. Lincoln FFA participates in two local fairs each year and some students continue on to the State Fair in market, breeding and master showmanship. Livestock exhibitions include pigs, sheep, goats, beef, turkeys and ducks. If that wasn’t enough, Lincoln FFA members also attend many leadership conferences throughout the year including COLC, Greenhand Conference, State Convention and National Convention. Two large fundraisers this year for the Lincoln FFA include a Tractor Raffle, restored by the Lincoln Ag Mechanics program and a Pig Raffle, raised and cared for by the Lincoln Ag Biology classes. Lincoln FFA members also sponsor a Christmas tree sale each December. All of these activities are supervised by four outstanding and enthusiastic Agriculture teachers; Mike Trueblood, 25 years, Barret Hess, nine years, Cassandra Walker five years and Jessica Armistead one year. The latter two teachers are proud to be Lincoln High School Alumni and past Lincoln FFA members. Thanks to the Lincoln Agriculture Department; it is inspiring to know, even in the face of urban sprawl, agriculture still remains a vital and active part of Lincoln’s youth. We would like to thank our community for all their help and support. This article was posted in the California edition of FFA New Horizons Magazine this past February when the Lincoln Agriculture Department was recognized as the Outstanding Chapter for California. For more information on the Lincoln High agricultural program, see https://sites.google.com/site/lincolnagdepartment.