Kansas Farmer Logo

Extra effort, planning lead to Kansas FFA Triple Crown

Girard FFA wins its first-ever Kansas FFA Triple Crown award in 2024.

July 10, 2024

6 Slides

by Amy Hadachek

After earning the Triple Crown award at the 96th annual Kansas FFA Convention May 31, the Girard FFA Chapter officer team quickly returned home and began preparing for the new school year.

For this year’s event, preparation began last summer when Girard chapter officers launched a schoolwide and communitywide activity blitz to teach and grow student members, with an eye to applying for the Kansas FFA Triple Crown award.

Girard FFA was chartered in 1941 in southeast Kansas’ Crawford County, and it was the first time in 83 years that the chapter brought home the Triple Crown.

“It was very unexpected and a momentous occasion to make the ‘Top 10,’” says Brandon Callaway, chapter advisor. “It was because of the students’ work.” Callaway, along with co-advisor Meghan Eidman, guided the students on their quest for the crown.

“It’s our job to guide our members,” he adds. “As a student-led organization, if they get an award, it’s because they have the drive and passion to see change inside our community.”

Inclusive strategy

Out of 300 students at Girard High School — one-third, or 121 — are FFA members. The team’s officers wanted members to focus on the extra effort needed to win the Triple Crown.

“My goal as an officer was to include all members, not just officers, and the activities showed we have a chapter where kids who might not naturally fit in can find a place because of various opportunities,” says Lily Gronau, 2023-24 Girard FFA vice president.

In small groups, members decided which activities the chapter would host. Whether a member was in FFA for the leadership experience or to develop skills, each had a role to play in the activities that lead to the Triple Crown.

“This year, we rebuilt our committee system, giving more responsibility to our chapter members who weren’t necessarily officers,” says Ainsley Norton, Girard’s 2023-24 FFA chapter president. “This increased the buy-in for our members — allowing them to take charge in leading and serving our community.”

Norton says members enjoyed being on the Tractor Day committee, which taught young children about tractor safety. The community service committee created a popular Christmas service activity for the elderly population by assembling holiday bags with handwritten Christmas cards from Girard FFA members.

“Being able to bring joy to those feeling lonely or sad during the holiday season enabled our members to give back to our community through simple gifts and gestures,” Norton says.

Everybody’s all in

The chapter reached out to alumni and supporters in the community, with great response. And individual members stepped up to help the chapter in many ways.

“We also split up among the officers what areas of the application they’d focus on,” Eidman says. “They were solely in charge of writing those up. Some officers double-checked that and did a lot more follow-up.”

Eidman was the first female ag teacher in Girard’s history. She recently relocated to Attica, Kan., to teach agriculture and serve as that chapter’s FFA advisor. “It’s a smaller school with a newer program, so there will be more building of traditions and activities there,” she says.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Sturgis, who just  ended her two-year term as Kansas State FFA Convention chairman, has accepted the co-advisor position at Girard starting next term. She joins Callaway, a Girard alum who this fall will count his 11th year of teaching — his eighth at Girard High School.

“I’m excited to see ideas that our new officers bring,” Callaway says, “and how to improve events we’ve recently begun.”

Chapter’s path to succes

To earn the Kansas FFA Triple Crown, chapters need to hit 13 indicators, or targets, through their programming.

To apply, a chapter must have an updated constitution, host monthly meetings, offer an annual banquet and involve all members in planning, according to Callaway. 

The Girard chapter score was the highest combined ranking over three divisions:

  • Building Communities. The chapter held several events including Christmas in the Community, where handwritten notes were given to elderly in the community. The chapter also held a legislative forum in conjunction with Farm Bureau. And its Turkey Hunt asked the community to visit a local business to fill out a card to receive a frozen turkey or pie in time for Thanksgiving.

  • Growing Leaders. To improves its committees, the chapter offered members leadership training. Project development in the welding facility focused on community engagement and career growth.

  • Strengthening Agriculture. The chapter launched an annual Summer Alumni Barbecue for the Friday before school starts, as well as a Super CDE Day for eighth graders, which sampled FFA events. Tractor Day featured students driving tractors to the elementary school and then presenting tractor safety information.

Hadachek writes from Cuba, Kan.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like