Bob Hope School makes history with 1st Future Farmers of America club in Port Arthur

Published 12:20 am Friday, September 1, 2023

Bob Hope High School senior Valerie Arreola understands the importance of Future Farmers of America.

“Through FFA we are able to help others expand their knowledge and skills on agriculture,” said Arreola, president of the school’s newly chartered chapter.

Arreola said agriculture is the backbone of America — and the world in general. Through FFA, its members can help others prevent food insecurity or housing insecurity — problems that are prevalent in America and across the world.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The FFA officer team, along with School Director Dr. Jesus Acosta and Superintendent Dr. Bobby Lopez, gathered Thursday for a ceremony where school officials signed the charter.

Acosta explained this is the first FFA chapter in the City of Port Arthur and it just happened to become official in the city’s 125th year.

But FFA is about more than farming.

Instructor Makenzie Morris said the students got a taste of that last year during the chartering process. They conducted business meetings and followed parliamentary procedure.

They also competed in veterinary science and poultry judging.

With the charter they are going to add leadership development teams so they can have students competing in radio broadcasts, public relations, quiz and speaking events.

Morris said there are career opportunities that come from FFA, and students at Bob Hope will learn this.

Currently FFA is open to students in ninth through 12th grades. Eventually, eighth graders will be able to get an early view at the organization through “discovery,” which is a junior level portion of the chapter.

Last year there were 49 students in the organization. The membership deadline for the newly chartered FFA has not passed, but school officials are hoping to see 100 members.

The school has an area with chickens and plans to add goats.

“We’re starting our process of building a goat enclosure outside,” Morris said. “Our chickens were really successful last year, and we donated eggs, several dozen eggs, to the food pantry.”

There is also a garden on campus that was a bit more prolific during the summer, but the students weren’t there to see it, she said.

The garden and chickens are self-sustaining; scraps are given to the chickens and chickens contribute to the garden, she said.

The idea to start an FFA chapter came from Superintendent Lopez.

The program teaches leadership, among other characteristics and skills that could lead to FFA members becoming farmers or ranchers.

The future may lead to colleges like Texas A&M, Lopez said as he noted his Texas A&M tie.

“In this type of FFA program, that’s what it’s about, building leaders,” Lopez said.

According to Texas FFA Association, FFA also involves agriculture, which is much broader than farming and ranching. Its members study horticulture, food sciences, accounting, wildlife management, mechanics and engineering.