Hannibal High School students had a productive National FFA Week

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From left, Chase Massie, Katherine Painter, Nate Kibbler, Taylor Painter, and Lilly Hirner serving a pancake breakfast on Wednesday morning for the FFA Teacher Appreciation Breakfast. courtesy of Hannibal FFA

HANNIBAL, Mo. — Taylor Painter, junior at Hannibal High School, wants to be an Ag teacher.

It wasn’t a career path Taylor expected to take but joining FFA navigated her in a different direction. She is now the vice president of the school’s FFA program.

Nationally, FFA is a non-profit career and technical organization that promotes and supports agricultural learning for high school and middle school students, but for Taylor hanging out with the Hannibal FFA members is like being with family.

“They are definitely like family—they are my main friend group,” she said.

She has also grown as a leader, gained confidence and learned more about agriculture she ever dreamed she would.

“I’ve definitely opened up a lot more. I’m more able to speak on things that I never thought I’d be able to speak about,” she said. “When I was a kid I never thought I could stand here and actually know about agriculture.”

Taylor and the other members of the club celebrated National FFA week. It began with a barn warming on Sunday night for pizza and line dancing. Throughout the week they made flower bouquets for Basketball Senior Night, and served up pancakes at their Teacher Appreciation Breakfast.

The nationwide celebration kicks-off on George Washington’s birthday in remembrance of his love for agriculture. 

“He was big in agriculture and talked a lot about it, so it’s kind of centered around his birthday,” Sabrina Mahaney, agriculture instructor at Hannibal High School, said. 

For their service project they picked up about 15 dogs for the Northeast Missouri Humane Shelter and walked them at Sodalis Park. The group also had an evening at Fiddlesticks and went bowling.

Students are also learning where their food comes from, which Mahaney said became an important lesson since the pandemic.

“I talk a lot about what happened to us during COVID and how scary it was just going to the grocery store and seeing empty shelves,” she said. “The issue wasn’t that farmers weren’t producing, it was more an issue of getting it out to us.”

Mahaney, who grew up on a cattle farm near Rolla, Mo., said FFA teaches students a wide scope of agriculture. From agricultural technology to butchering and aquaponics to the marketing side of agriculture, student learning continues to grow.

“It involves processing, marketing, distributing, anything like that, not only growing the food or raising the animals. It’s about teaching them every little part of it,” Mahaney said. “There’s a lot of technology involved in agriculture, especially nowadays. there’s tractors that drive themselves. There’s just a lot more that goes into it than just traditional farming.”

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