Chapman FFA Alumni To Host Vo-Ag Centennial Celebration

The Chapman FFA Alumni are hosting a once-in-a lifetime event.

“On Saturday, Feb. 24, we’re celebrating more than 100 years of Agriculture Education at Chapman,” announced Kevin Harris, president of the Chapman FFA Alumni.

The 100-year celebration is in conjunction with the annual Work Auction which raises scholarship funds for FFA members and students attending the Washington (D.C.) Leadership Conference.

“Our celebration also commemorates the U.S. Congress signing the Smith-Hughes National Vocational Education Act of 1917,” Harris said. “This act promoted and provided federal funds for vocational agriculture in Chapman starting April 1, 1918.”

Chapman High School, then Dickinson County Community High School, was the first school in Kansas to qualify for the federal funding.

“In fact, records show the school had agricultural curriculum dating back to 1908 and was the first in the state of Kansas to provide agriculture education for four years,” Harris pointed out.

With the assistance from the Chapman Area Preservation Society and the Talmage Historical Society and Museum, academic catalogs from Dickinson County High School have revealed information from the program’s early years.

“These special pieces along will many other items will be on display during the celebration,” according to Melissa Reed, secretary of the Chapman FFA Alumni.

“Digging through photos, yearbooks and old catalogues has been enlightening and more exciting than ever anticipated,” Reed said. “We’ve discovered just how tied our community is to our ag program.”

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The chapter has had farm test plots dating back to 1912, and several partnerships with the Kansas State Agriculture College,

“It’s interesting the beginning of traditions like the FFA Sweetheart program, fruit sales and the chicken barbecue which are still going strong,” Reed commented.

Registration for the centennial celebration, February 24, will begin at 3 o’clock at the Chapman High School. “Everything will be open to the public,” Reed welcomed.

A social hour, tours of the school, a silent auction and a Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) Fair are planned

“The formal presentation will begin at 4:30, featuring alumni and former advisers highlighting a century of achievements in agricultural education in Chapman while looking to the future,” said Harris, also a former adviser there.

Following the presentation, a group photo will be taken of all alumni in attendance.

“Former members are encouraged to dust off their FFA jackets to be worn or shown in the picture,” Reed invited.

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“Area businesses have provided assistance for the 6 o’clock supper cost making the meal a free-will donation with proceeds benefiting the scholarship fund,” Harris appreciatively informed.

However, to ensure there’s plenty of supper for everyone, reservations must be made to melissa.hildebrand.reed@gmail.com or 785-477-9313.

“Free childcare will be available for those requesting it, but children are also just as welcome to attend all of the activities,” Reed explained. “The childcare is only for parent convenience if desired.”

The fundraiser silent auction will then close at 7 o’clock, right before the live auction begins.

“FFA members will offer eight-hours of labor for sale and can perform a variety of duties,” Harris informed. “That includes but is not limited to farm work, fencing, working livestock, clerical work, landscaping, painting, baby sitting, organizing, home cleaning and much more.”

A large variety of items have been donated by community businesses for both the live and silent auctions.

“Funds support FFA senior scholarships for secondary education and scholarships to defray the cost of attending the FFA Washington Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.,” Reed clarified.

 “We have been very pleased with the community support we’ve received through sponsorships and donated items,” Harris acknowledged. “This year has by far surpassed expectation as far as items collected. We anticipate having a very lively auction.”

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The Work Auction is the primary fundraiser for the Chapman FFA Alumni and has raised more than $20,000 in the past.

“In appreciation to the buyers who make the work auction successful, a small gift will be given to all buyers from the live auction,” Reed noted.

Details for the day will be updated on Facebook.