New La Crescent club paves the path for students to ‘change the world,’ one project at a time

May 3, 2019

Many exciting things are happening within La Crescent-Hokah High School, and one of the newest is the FCCLA club that has been in existence for less that a year.

That is quite the acronym for a special program that has been around for decades, but has been upgraded and updated to encompass so much more. FHA, or Future Homemakers of America, has been around since 1945. FCCLA, which stands for Family, Career and Commu- nity Leaders of America, is a new exciting version that helps students, according to club member Kennedie Dawson, “be able to change the world.”

Recently, the LHHS FCCLA club had its first taste of competition — and success — as two of its members have managed to achieve Gold (highest honor) at the state level with their projects: Tania Constantin and Kennedie Dawson. In another exciting turn of events, Kennedie Dawson also qualified for FCCLA Nationals in California (June 26 to July 5). According to Kristi Traxler, LHHS FCCLA adviser, in FCCLA there are areas like Career Connection, Financial Fitness, Stop the Violence, and many more that they can do their projects on, but it’s more of a guide, as they can work on any problem they would like to address.

Dawson’s project focuses on a topic she is passionate about. It is on how harmful plastic straws are for our environment. According to Traxler, Dawson did extensive research on the background of straws being developed for elderly and handicapped people, and then they became a staple of restaurants despite their very harmful impact on the environment. According to Dawson’s research, straws are the 10th-most common item found in the ocean, and affect marine animals in devastating ways. She not only researched the history and impact of straws, but also attended city meetings and visited with business owners in the city of La Crescent to promote limiting their use locally, and/or changing to reuseable options.

Both Traxler and Dawson talk about how FCCLA is a stage for students to voice and solve problems around them, with the skills they have. FCCLA allows students to pick a problem that resonates with them, and gives them the tools necessary to plan on how to solve it. Since almost any problem can be used as a project, anyone can participate.

FCCLA has some valuable skills for all students, in any pursuit. According to Traxler, FCCLA has students who really look at joining as a resume builder. They look at what they are learning as a way to get them into colleges or find a job.

FCCLA has became very “cutting edge, and they are trying to be very current,” Traxler said. Kids in the program may be interested in consumer sciences, child development, interior design or culinary arts, but the group has “many opportunities for entrepreneurship, starting your own kind of business, or any other career you can think of.”

In fact, Traxler assisted with the Minnesota state judging competition, and met with FCCLA members who planned on using this experience to help them in pursuing a job as an agricultural extension agent, and even a few hoping to follow careers in law.

Dawson’s future plans include becoming a nurse. She believes that FCCLA provides multiple skills that include public speaking, leadership and organizational skills. She has relished the opportunity to meet many new people from all over the United States, but also connect with students in La Crescent that she didn’t know before, and now considers family. She has really enjoyed working on her project, and the opportunity to present to local businesses and groups. She joined FCCLA because she was intrigued by what the organization represents.

“I am a person who always wants to change the world, even if its a simple task,” she said. She has believed that “it is important, even at a young age, to want to have this motive to make things right.”

According to Traxler, FCCLA is completely student run, and highlights parts of Consumer Science classes that you can take your interests and really expand upon them.

“I saw the students here as being very interested and motivated, and they would take this group, and do all sorts of cool things with it,” Traxler said. “We are excited that with the passing of the referendum that we are going to be able to expand our vocational education. We are thinking that this will be a really nice way for our students to showcase all the things they are learning, and that are happening at our school.”

With FCCLA’s great malleability for any student to shape their problems into a project, it can’t be helped but to note that FCCLA is a great opportunity for students to change their communities in positive ways. While FCCLA is still new in La Crescent, it looks like it is already providing the students of LHHS the ability to pave the way for better future for themselves, and the La Crescent community.