NEWARK – Area residents can decorate their homes for the holidays while supporting a worthy cause this month at Worcester Technical High School.
Worcester Tech’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) group is selling poinsettias and Christmas trees to raise money for a trip to the Maryland State FFA Convention in 2018. At the three-day event they’ll be able to participate in career development activities, leadership workshops and service learning.
“FFA gives the students the chance to learn leadership skills,” said Jessica Flores, agriculture science teacher and FFA advisor at Worcester Tech. “Even if you’re a farmer you have to work with people.”
While Worcester Tech’s FFA students traditionally hold a plant sale in the spring, this is the first year they’ve also sold Christmas trees. Flores said she worked with Berlin Farm Supply to get the trees, Cannan firs, but that Worcester Tech students have prepared the trees and will be selling them. The 6-7 foot trees, which were chosen because of their strong branches and medium fragrance, can be purchased for $40 each at the Worcester Tech greenhouse Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. They can also be purchased from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Dec. 4, 11 and 18.
Students are also selling poinsettia plants for $8 each at the greenhouse. Flores says that when FFA hosts its semi-regular plant sales, she typically works with a local business to get the plants a couple months before they’re ready to sell. With the poinsettias, for example, her students have spent the past eight weeks caring for them, ensuring that they got the right amount of sunlight and were kept at the optimum growing temperature.
Now that they’re selling the plants, they’re learning the business skills associated with agriculture. Flores said the students were charged with pricing the plants after looking at market rates and compiling their expenses.
“We use the greenhouse to teach students the business aspects of farming,” Flores said.
At Worcester Tech, FFA is open to any student enrolled in an agriculture science class. Typically, Flores says all of the ag science students join FFA because it complements their field of study. By joining FFA, students have access to trips, competitions, conventions and conferences. In October, Worcester Tech’s FFA members placed sixth in the state in a land judging competition. They were tasked with identifying various soil layers and determined whether a particular piece of land was suitable for building or for crops or livestock, etc.
FFA also offers competitions in poultry judging, engine repair, public speaking and numerous other tasks associated with farming.
“There’s a lot of opportunity,” Flores said.
She said that FFA and the agriculture science program at Worcester Tech serve students who have a background in farming as well as those who don’t. Many students, she said, simply have an interest in food production.
“There’s a combination of students involved,” she said. “Generally all of them are interested in animals but only a handful have a farming background or direct ties to a farmer.”
Regardless of exactly where their interests lie, Flores says agriculture science and FFA teach skills that will help students later in life.
“It’s not just for farm kids,” she said. “It’s for any student who wants to be involved in food production.”
For more information on purchasing trees or poinsettias, call Flores at 410-632-5050 or email [email protected].