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Members of the 2017-2018 Rugby FFA chapter Rugby FFA
RUGBY FFA: Members of the 2017-2018 Rugby FFA chapter gather for a group picture. They are the largest FFA chapter in North Dakota.

Congratulations to Rugby FFA! They are a chapter of 'doers'

The Rugby, N.D., FFA sold the most tickets in the recent Farm Rescue Foundation Grain Bin Raffle.

Congratulations on a job well done goes out to the Rugby, N.D., FFA. The chapter was the top seller in the recent Farm Rescue Foundation’s Grain Bin Raffle contest.

Farm Rescue is a non-profit organization that helps farm and ranch families who have experienced an accident or illness plant and harvest their crops, feed their livestock or haul donated hay. It recently raised money to support its activities with by raffling off a Meridian hopper bin. FFA chapters throughout the state sold tickets to the raffle.

With 151 active members between the ages of 14-21, Rugby is one of the largest FFA chapters in North Dakota. It started 87 years ago and was once an all-male club. But today it is consistently 50-50 male-female ratio. It was the first in the state to have an all-female officer team.

Rugby FFA

CHAPTER OFFICERS: The 2017-2018 Rugby FFA officers and advisors are Kasey Okke, advisor (left); Christine Vetsch; Lilli French; Colin Kraft; Holly Vetsch; Katherine Filler; Halie Schmaltz; Alissa Volk; Abby Volk, 2016-2017 Rugby FFA president and current North Dakota State FFA officer; and Travis Fritel, advisor.

Travis Fritel, one of the chapter’s advisors, answered our questions about the Rugby FFA and its involvement in the Farm Rescue project.

What’s special about the chapter?
Rugby High School has been lucky enough to have a two-teacher ag department and classrooms full of kids. This has allowed us to thrive as a program. We also have very active alumni who help the program by sponsoring college scholarships and providing money for things such as FFA jackets and numerous leadership conferences. The alumni and community have been very supportive in helping the chapter and working with our students.

What are some of your top projects?
In our department we try to make sure the students are college or career ready. So, last year I asked the Job Development Authority of Rugby to help fund and support a project where our juniors and seniors would partner with a business owner in the community and they would go out on a lunch “job interview” to hone their employment skills. They are then evaluated on their performance and given tips on how to do better in an actual interview. This comes after much time in the classroom building resumes and cover letters while practicing filling out applications and doing mock interviews.

We do numerous projects for the community and school within our classes, such as building the dugout after a storm wrecked one of the schools as well as building projects for our county fair and fair auction. We try to give back to the community that has been so supportive to us.

We built a crank down ice house that was really a capstone of a lot of the aspects that we teach. We designed and welded together a frame that was then wired with lights both on the trailer and inside the house. We then insulated, tinned the outside and finished the inside in wood. And just to add some challenge, we decided to make a wood burning stove that we cut out with our computer-run plasma table. We like to show the students how they can use the skills we teach them for the rest of their lives.

In 2012, the ag department was able to add a greenhouse to the south side school that has a walkout from one of the classrooms. We were also able to add a walk-in freezer to the existing meats lab. Since then, the program has been focused on updating tools such as welders, a computer-run plasma cutter and an enclosed job-site tool trailer.

Why did the chapter get involved with Farm Rescue project?
The Farm Rescue Foundation really follows hand-in-hand with what we as the FFA do. We invest in people to better our future. And this is just one way we can show students how to make a difference. It also hits home with our students as Farm Rescue has helped numerous people within our community. The members really learned that when someone is in need, you need to step up and help in any way that you can.

Would you suggest other chapters get involved with a Farm Rescue project? Why?
Yes, I would suggest everyone to get involved with the Farm Rescue because farming and ranching is our background, and Farm Rescue helps make sure no one loses their job, their livelihood, over an untimely accident. You can help others no matter how small the gesture is or how small it may seem. If you can brighten someone’s day or help them in a time of need, do it. Don’t think about it. Do it we. We need more doers.

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