PHOTO PROVIDED Blake Richardson, who serves as treasurer among chapter officers, poses with his hog.

Planting ideas, teaching skills, and growing futures is what Pleasant Hill Agriculture CTE program and FFA chapter are pursuing in this Covid time. 

While students are learning virtually and often feeling trapped at home behind a computer, the agriculture program is challenging students to many at-home labs and skill development.

Pleasant Hill High School offers seven agricultural classes focusing on natural-resource and wildlife management, animal science, horticulture, business management, ag-related skills development, and leadership.

PHOTO PROVIDED Leadership development program winner Zoey Brott.

During these classes concepts in soil science, animal management and husbandry, cultivation and crop science, business management and budgeting are implemented through investigative laboratories and online learning resources.

Engagement with FFA, natural resource-focused educational organizations, and online technical certificate programs are offered. 

In a normal year, students would meet with a variety of guest speakers, tour agricultural facilities and operations, compete in FFA career development events, and meet directly with industry professionals.

Pleasant Hill students miss these opportunities and instead are having to learn new skills like video streaming and meeting online on virtual platforms. This year, each agricultural student has been assigned a supervised agricultural experience that they are conducting at home. Detailed planning and record-keeping, and basic skills development are coordinated through classes and allow students the opportunity to gain proficiency in the skills of their choice. 

PHOTO PROVIDED Leadership development program winner Tressa Geyer.

Several students have decided to take these opportunities to the next level and showcase their skills and knowledge through competitions. Students are learning that awards are nice but experiences are even better. As part of its forestry science and natural-resources curriculum the school offered an opportunity to develop a video on forestry careers. “Thru the Trees” is a Pacific Northwest forestry education campaign designed to connect students with potential careers in the forestry sector. 

FFA members Tressa Geyer and Zoey Brott developed an animated and interactive presentation on landslide management. Their efforts earned them second place, a cash award, and the opportunity to work on a promotion campaign while blending art, technology, and research. 

The students competed against high school students across the Pacific Northwest. The business management students are learning skills in marketing and promotions, media relations, and website design and will be applying skills learned during this project to create and maintaining our FFA chapters website at pleasanthillffaoregon.com.

Another agricultural lab student is Zack Mcguire, a freshman at Pleasant Hill, who is learning more than basic mechanics, engine troubleshooting, and agricultural sales. 

He’s competing and winning on a motocross circuit and attending different racing along the West Coast. Mcguire said that this is his passion and he looks forward to making it his profession. While at home he’s constantly working on his 125 two-stroke bike but also contacting and networking with sponsors. He understands that this will take lots of seat time, practice, and hands-on mechanical dedication. 

PHOTO PROVIDED Leadership development program winner Savannah White.

Mcguire said this is the best education he can get, by learning from professionals, putting in the hard work, and hoping to have a career that follows his passion in life. 

During the February Leadership Development event Tressa Geyer and Zoey Brott placed first and second in Beginning Public Speaking. Dakotah Johnsen and Savannah White placed first and second in Beginning Job Interview. 

These events help prepare our members for a variety of leadership demands and public-speaking opportunities. 

Pleasant Hill’s agricultural program and FFA chapter are always seeking industry and community members to help with guest lectures, equipment, ideas, and supplies for these opportunities.