School Bulletin: Acres of opportunity for ag students

School Bulletin: Acres of opportunity for ag students

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Oconomowoc High School agricultural department is growing even faster than the plants in the greenhouses, and this year's crop of FFA student leaders take a lot of pride in their work.

"Joining my freshman year, I can say was the best thing that happened to me," Katilin Flood, a junior says.

Flood is among 400 students enrolled in at least one of the agricultural classes. She says she's grown up on a dairy farm and plans to continue in the family business.

"I can bring something back to the farm and help better our farm," Flood says.

Plenty of FFA students have similar backgrounds, but others say they wanted to join and to take advantage of the hands-on learning opportunities.

Olivia Uttech has been studying animal science and plans to become a veterinarian, but she says one final exam sticks out in her mind. There were no traditional books or study guides. Just quick thinking and courage.

"I got into this tractor, had some training and then had to drive a sprayer around the school farm, which I think was absolutely awesome," the junior student says. "I feel like I never would have done that if I'd never joined FFA."

Oconomowoc High School has a 74-acre farm and multiple greenhouses where the students learn not only how to make things grow, but how to lead.

"I'm in charge of our construction at the greenhouses," Nolan Wingert, another junior student, says. "We're building benches right now for our brand-new greenhouse we built this fall. We're widening skills in the construction industry."

Wingert says he was nervous to join FFA as a freshman but once he did, he's thrown himself into everything.

"There are so many different types of agriculture. There are things for everybody," Wingert says.

Sydney Miller, a senior and president of the FFA chapter, says she always thought she would study agronomy, the science of crop and plant management, and use her degree to help her family's farm. But now she says she wants to major in agribusiness when she starts at UW-Madison this fall.

"I've just grown so much with my confidence but also as a leader and a friend. I've just learned so many great skills through FFA," Miller says.

These students are united by their passion for agriculture and how it affects everyone, but there is another element. Margaret Waite has been teaching at OHS for decades and has advised generations of students.

"She's definitely influenced all of our lives in some way," Flood says. "Whether it's just pushing us to do better or making us do things we never thought we'd want to do in our lives."

The students say Waite's lessons inside and outside the classroom have helped them become better communicators and community members. All skills they will need after high school.

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