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Clear Lake schools to launch FFA program next fall

November 30, 2018

CLEAR LAKE, Iowa — A northern Iowa school district is launching Cerro Gordo County’s sole agriculture and FFA program next fall.

“Cerro Gordo County does not have an ag or FFA program right now,” said Clear Lake Superintendent Doug Gee. “Living in Iowa, that doesn’t make sense to me.”

Statistics show one of every five students who graduate from high school in Iowa will go into an ag-related field, Gee said, noting the figure could be higher when industries like ag manufacturing are considered.

Clear Lake’s program will span grades 7-12, with an exploratory course for middle-schoolers and introduction to ag class for high-schoolers.

Gee helped launch a similar program in his former district — Boyer Valley, in western Iowa — and hopes to expand Clear Lake’s courses into ag business.

“Living in Clear Lake, I can envision us doing something with natural resources,” he said.

As for the FFA program, Gee said he’s seen it develop lifelong skills and qualities businesses are seeking in employees, such as leadership, public speaking, interview skills, collaboration and responsibility.

The National FFA Organization is “dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education,” according to its website.

The organization says its agricultural education helps prepare students for “successful careers and a lifetime of informed choices” in global agriculture, food, fiber and natural resources.

The program is for all students, such as those who aspire to be teachers, doctors, scientists, business owners and more, not just those interested in agriculture careers such as production farming.

Clear Lake has responded positively to the announcement, with students and parents expressing interest in the course and businesses donating towards it.

“The community support as far as businesses has been fantastic,” Gee said.

More than $60,000 has been raised for the first year, more than $50,000 for the second year and $50,000 for the third year, according to Gee. The funds will pay for the ag teacher’s salary, as well as textbooks and other supplies.

The district is seeking more people to financially support the program, as well as ag-related businesses students can become involved with once the courses begin in fall 2019.

“We want to keep our kids working in local businesses here and around the Clear Lake community,” Gee said.

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