Midlothian’s Long-Standing FFA Legacy: From 1937 Roots to State Leadership, Inspiring Future Generations

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large group of students by cow statue
Photo courtesy Midlothian FFA

The National Future Farmers of America program was formed in 1928.

Not long after, Midlothian High School followed suit, forming in 1937 and becoming one of the oldest in the United States. Now, with the addition of a program at Midlothian Heritage, the district has two FFA programs.

Both programs are among the leaders in guiding youngsters who want a career in the farming and agricultural industry down the right path. Students such as sophomore John Yarbrough also serve as the program’s treasurer for the 2023-24 school year.

“Students can benefit from a great FFA program by learning valuable life skills that will live with them for the rest of their lives, such as leadership, time management, and hard work. These skills can transfer to any career or anything they want to do in the future,” Yarbrough said.

Each program has over 400 members.

Among the many ways FFA works with students are:

  • Teaching students public speaking skills through speaking development events (SDE).
  • Nurturing career skills through career development events (CDE).
  • Problem-solving by overcoming struggles in leadership development events (LDE).
  • The FFA offers students many scholarships for being actively involved. One of FFA’s main goals is to prepare students for their future in careers, college or any other route they may choose.

MIDLOTHIAN FFA

This year both the Senior and Junior Agriculture Skills teams made the State Leadership Development Events. The Seniors Agriculture Skills team made it to the top 22 teams in the state of Texas.

“The Senior team consisted of three very hard-working and driven students – Cale Anderson, Macie Griffin, and Harper Shook,” said Kelly Verstuyft, MHS ag instructor.

The Junior Agriculture Skills team placed 10th in the state.

“The Junior Agriculture Skills team was made up of three outstanding freshmen – Rylee Constantino, Mackenley Buckmaster, and London Day,” Verstuyft said.

There are a total of 1,095 FFA Chapters in the state of Texas that are eligible to compete for this title.

Verstuyft noted several ways the program has helped students through the years.

“The most important impact would be the life skills that the program instills in each of the students that go through the program. Life skills include a great work ethic, dependability, and responsibility,” she said. “Students that go through our program leave with qualities to become productive members of the community.”

Verstuyft said that in 2016-17, the Midlothian FFA had an all-time high of 488 members before Heritage opened. Since then, both schools have grown their programs to the current numbers.

“I truly believe that the Midlothian FFA program will continue to grow and thrive,” she said. “With the support of our amazing school district, community, and parents, we can only continue in the great path we have in front of us.”

HERITAGE FFA

Whitney Stults, Heritage ag teacher, said her program’s biggest highlight this year was combining with the Midlothian FFA Chapter for livestock projects at the county show.
“MISD students made over $250,000 for just the students that made sale,” she said.
Some other highlights of the Heritage program included six teams advancing to area competition in Leadership Development Events and three teams advancing to state during Career Development Events.

During Speaking Development Events six speakers advanced to area. The ag mechanics program was successful at the county show, ending up with four division champions, two reserve division champions, and the overall reserve champion for the ag mechanics build-off.

Stults believes the Heritage program, created in 2016, a year after the school opened, has benefited from MHS’s longstanding tradition.

“The school district was already used to having an FFA chapter instead of having to figure out from scratch how to work with an FFA program,” she said.

“This program has had a significant positive impact on students throughout the years. It has not only helped them come out of their shells and just grow as an individual, but it has also created so many amazing leaders,” she continued. “It has helped some students turn their lives around and become a totally different person that no one would have expected.

“Every successful FFA program has this effect on their students, and we are so glad that we get to watch how it impacts ours.”

Stults said that over the past couple of years, some more notable program members have been Jackson Chapman, Carter Dawson, Isaac Rice, and Kynlee Berry.

“They all four have had a major impact on our program the last couple of years and have also had an impact on the community,” she said. “Jackson, Carter, and Isaac were recognized for helping a community member this past year with their livestock when the owner ran into a problem. Kynlee is known around the community as she is also a cheerleader and in HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America). All four of these students have grown into great students, and we can’t wait to see what they do with their future.”

Chapman served as an area officer, Berry served as the Blackland District president, and Payton Hill was a Blackland District officer. For this upcoming school year, Berry will serve as an area officer, and Ansley Smith and Bailey Cunningham will serve as Blackland District officers.

Other accolades include:

*The Milk Quality team made it to state, which included Dawson, Isaac Rice, Evan Luhring, and Chris Hill.

*The Floriculture team made it to state, which included Tatum Giddens, Rylee Young, Quinn Fairman, and Ava Berger.

*The Nursery and Landscape team also made it to state, which included Berry, Smith, Cunningham, and Norah Pacheco.

“This program has a bright future, and we can’t wait to see what we will do. Travis Smith, a Waxahachie City Council member, has been able to watch our students change over the past three years, and this past month, mentioned, ‘There WILL be a state and potentially National FFA officer from the Midlothian Heritage FFA in the next year or three.’”

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Rick Mauch
Rick Mauch is a veteran of more than four decades in the media. He began writing in high school and immediately went into broadcasting for almost a decade after graduating, working his way to morning drive in Birmingham, Alabama. However, realizing how much he missed writing (though he did continue to do some during his time in top-40 radio), Rick returned to what he loved and has been doing it ever since. Rick's career has spanned a plethora of media outlets, including community journalism, sports, entertainment, politics and more. He's worked in print, broadcast and online media. He also spent several years doing public relations for a children's home in East Texas - still writing on the side, of course. When he's not writing, Rick loves to play golf and do Bigfoot research. He's an avid believer. He also made his first hole-in-one in June of 2020. Rick is married to Junell Mauch. They have five children and three granddaughters

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