If This Jacket Could Talk

We’re wrapping up National FFA Week, which is a week for chapters and members to share agriculture with their fellow students as well as their communities. Students in our area hosted breakfasts, spoke at conferences, held fundraisers and more. No doubt, the Official Dress and old FFA jacket will be ready for a break after school today.

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If this jacket could talk, it would tell you that it knows Robert – and his Rules of Order- very well.

If this jacket could talk, it would tell you that you might outgrow jacket itself, but you won’t outgrow the memories or experiences.

If this jacket could talk, it would tell you that Official Dress really does matter. No jeans, no dirty boots, no zippers undone:

If this jacket could talk, it would tell you that many of your greatest lessons in high school happen after the 3:00 bell rings.

If this jacket could talk, it would tell you your scarf or tie is hiding in your left pocket.

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If this jacket could talk, it would tell you that when we think of our favorite chapters, we don’t think of a book.

If this jacket could talk, it would tell you that FFA is one organization that has remained true to it’s core through generations. We all still believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds – achievements won by the present and past generations of agriculturists; in the promise of better days through better ways, even as the better things we now enjoy have come to us from the struggles of former years.

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If this jacket could talk, it would tell you that corduroy has a special durability to withstand the harshest October wind streaming through Indianapolis during convention, pins and embroidery needles that come along with leadership changes and even constructive criticism from judges.

If this jacket could talk, it would tell you to prepare yourself for the day that you hang up your jacket, placing it in the back corner of your closet, knowing it’s work is done, never to be worn again. It is a moment that signifies the end of a chapter in your life. But don’t you worry, the best is yet to come.

If this jacket could talk, it would tell you that FFA is more than future farmers of America, but rather future botanists, food scientists, veterinarians, ag journalists, loan officers, chemical salesmen, farm broadcasters, teachers, nutritionists, applicators, mechanics and so much  more.

Awards

Thank you to the advisors who dedicate so much of their time and energy to the students of the FFA organization, to the students who comprise such a promising group of future agriculturalists and to the parents who buy an endless supply of black panty hose and clean white oxford shirts for four years to get those students through. The FFA is an organization that gives us such promise of better days.

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Service In Action: Pack Away Hunger

Sometimes it’s good to remember that part of our fabric isn’t limited to corn, soybeans, diesel and propane.

The cooperative roots of service run deep and span miles throughout the communities in which we do business. Appropriately, of course, since our business is built on the cooperative spirit of helping one another reach a common goal.

Harvest Land believes in a culture which reflects the importance of service to others, and we created our Cultivating Communities program to allow that culture to thrive. Cultivating Communities encourages Harvest Land employees to volunteer eight service hours annually to organizations that align with her personal values.

Pack Away Hunger is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and others who suffer from hunger and malnutrition. It’s a group that our farmer-members and employees have become familiar with over the last three years, as we’ve partnered with local churches and FFA chapters to pack meals that went on to local food banks and also Mission Guatemala.

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In March twenty-three churches, nine FFA chapters, various community organizations and Harvest Land Co-op employees and farmer-members partnered for the 5th annual Pack Away Hunger event, which packaged 162,216 nutritious meals to be distributed. The meals went specifically to Gleaner’s, Midwest Food Bank and eleven more local community food pantries which will receive between 1,000 to 10,000 meals, depending on their size and the area they cover.

The meals, which more than seven hundred volunteers prepared over multiple shifts, were formulated to provide a rich source of easily digestible protein, carbohydrates and vitamins needed by a malnourished body. They consist of high-quality white rice, fortified soy, a blend of six dehydrated vegetables and twenty-one vitamins and minerals. They’re packaged in fourteen-ounce bags.

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Part of Harvest Land’s purpose is to do what’s right while utilizing technology, science and hard work to feed a growing world. We really cannot think of a better organization of which to partner to align with our cooperative’s purpose. We had several employees spend their Saturday at Pack Away Hunger, working towards a common goal to take care of one another. It’s what rural communities do, and we’re proud to be a part of it.

 

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But what happens after the Pack Away Hunger Event? After the bags are sealed and the trucks are loaded and the hair nets – beard nets for some Harvest Land employees – are tossed in the trash never to be seen again? How do those eight hours committed by our farmer-members and employees go on to serve others?

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Here is one example. You can see the local Western Wayne FFA chapter working at First Church in Hagerstown to distribute food during the monthly mobile food pantry. Part of this offering was food that we packaged at Pack Away Hunger.

And just last week we received these photos directly from Guatemala:

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The following were taken at ‘Tat Loy’ a drug and alcohol rehab center in San Lucas – Toliman. This particular location is a recipient of the rice meals that we packed for their residents. There are more than 72 individuals at the facility currently.

Right now the building is a two story building with a small deck on the roof but they are expanding the second story and building a full covered deck on the roof, which will become the third floor, to serve more occupants. In these photos they are building a frame around the a rebar column in advance of pouring a concrete column that will eventually support the upper floor.

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Pretty neat to see the familiar Harvest Land logo at work so far from home, huh?

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We thought it pretty special that the meals we packed one morning earlier this spring are not only feeding neighbors who may typically go without, but also the people of Guatemala  whom we’ll likely never have the opportunity to meet.

We’re doing what’s right while utilizing technology, science and hard work to feed a growing world. Sometimes, that includes hairnets, cups of rice and assembly lines rather than 16-row planters and seed tenders.

And we’re ok with that.

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