The Nebraska FFA Foundation awarded Maxwell Public Schools with a grant to start a new chapter and an Agriculture program for the 2022-2023 school year.
Maxwell, NE, with a population of 256, has created a small but mighty FFA chapter and Agricultural Education program with the help of first-year teacher Amanda Schmidt, who graduated from UNL in December of 2021. The Agricultural Education program, funded through the Nebraska FFA grant, created a variety of classes for 7th-12th grade students, including animal, food, and plant sciences, and an official FFA Chapter.
The Maxwell FFA Chapter has made a big impact in just their first year with an official FFA program. They had top LDE and CDE placements, and a Junior Public Speaking State qualifier, earning a top silver. Schmidt says, “Doing well in competitions just puts into perspective like, hey, we can really thrive off of each other's success and try to figure out where our strong assets are.”
It can be a challenge trying to motivate students to try something new, especially in a smaller setting. However, Maxwell Public Schools managed to recruit 47 students in their Ag program and 23 in FFA. These students were thrilled to try something new, and create traditions. “I was shocked when I came in the first week when we had our first meeting, I will never forget it. I was praying for 10 kids. All of a sudden my classroom was full.” Says Schmidt. Her students are always eager to learn, and get involved in Agriculture.
Having students from various towns coming into Maxwell for school, we can see lots of diversity. Schmidt sees urban and rural students, mainly coming from either urban North Platte or Gothenburg. While other students drive at least 30 minutes into town. With this, it can be a challenge to find students' interests or strengths with all of the variety in the classroom. For this next school year, Schmidt plans to get her students involved in work-based learning in the afternoon. With this, juniors and seniors will take their core classes in the morning, and in the afternoon they will have contracted hours to work with local companies, farms, or ranches, to really see where their interests lie, even if they don't come from an agricultural background.
Maxwell's 47 students come from a wide variety of backgrounds ranging from larger communities like North Platte to smaller towns like Maxwell. To see where her students' interests lie, Shmidt plans to get her students involved in work-based learning in the afternoon. With this, juniors and seniors will take their core classes in the morning, and in the afternoon they will have contracted hours to work with local companies, farms, or ranches to experience the diversity of agricultural opportunities regardless of where they come from.
Congratulations from the Nebraska FFA Foundation
Nebraska FFA plans to have 214 chapters and 245 teachers for the 2023-2024 school year. With various new branches across Nebraska in their first few years, we would like to say thank you, teachers and students, for all of your hard work. We can't wait to see where these next years will take you.