Marysville High School FFA Vice President Leighann Shanklin says the benefits of FFA go beyond basic agriculture education and she is ready to share her experience at the first ever FFA Camp hosted by the school's FFA organization.

Marysville High School FFA Vice President Leighann Shanklin says the benefits of FFA go beyond basic agriculture education and she is ready to share her experience at the first ever FFA Camp hosted by the school's FFA organization.

"The amount of leadership opportunities and leadership skills and communication skills in general is crazy," Shanklin said. "I never would have imagined anything like it."

But Shanklin put her imagination to use in designing the new camp which will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, July 13, for kids ages 8 to 13.

"What we really want to do is get them introduced to what FFA is and what agriculture is and what we do in all the different pathways," Shanklin said.

Shari Anderson, FFA adviser, says the camp will be set up into three different stations to explore those three different pathways.

Students will weld a model plane to explore mechanics and engineering. Then they will learn how to graft plants. They will paint a flower pot and graft their own geranium. And of course, they will work with animals.

"They're going to be working with some sheep," Anderson said.

"They're going to learn how to work with sheers and they're going to get a chance to check out a herding demonstration with dogs moving the animals around and get to interact with that."

The camp will be held in the Marysville Agricultural Education Department at Marysville High School. For $20 campers will get all those experiences plus a T-shirt and snacks. Registration closed June 25.

Anderson says some materials for the plane welding project were donated, but other than that the Marysville FFA is paying for the other materials. She says the event will be cost neutral.

Three MHS agriculture teachers and 15 to 20 FFA students will be running the camp.

Anderson says there are 34 campers registered, and she's pleased with that number.

"I was telling the students who are in charge of planning this whole thing 'you know it's the first year we've ever done anything, if we get 15 I'm going to say it's a huge success.' We're well above that which is great," Anderson said. "I had no idea what to expect."

Anderson and Shanklin said the idea for the camp came from MHS Assistant Principal Shawn Williams.

"He described it as a sports camp for FFA," Shanklin said.

"Which got me really excited, because that's never happened," said Shanklin. "They have all these sports training camps.

"FFA is basically like a sport, but it's leadership based. But the idea of our camp and a sports day camp is the same."

Shanklin says the FFA chapter often talks with middle school students and other high school students, but they have never targeted a group this young before.

"I was kind of nervous about how we would handle such young kids," Shanklin said.

"Who knows if they'll remember the true experience or not, but I hope they get interested and into agriculture and understand what people in agriculture really do."

"The main goals are for kids to have a good time and to learn something," Anderson said.

"We want to generate that interest and let them know FFA is more than livestock and other things they may think of."

Shanklin says growing up she was part of 4-H and showed hogs at the fair, but other than that, she lives in town while many other FFA students live on farms.

She first started considering FFA in the eighth grade when high school students visited the middle school.

"But they talked to us and they seemed like really cool people and they talked about all the leadership opportunities like public speaking, becoming an officer, the FFA projects you can be a part of it," Shanklin said.

"I went into it thinking 'I could never be an officer. That would be so hard. I'm not one of those people. I live in the city. I'm not part of agriculture by any means. I mean I show pigs but I don't live anywhere near a farm'," Shanklin said.

"I had no high hopes or high expectations but then here I am sitting as the (vice president) of the Marysville FFA."

Shanklin says last year she planned nine FFA activities. She hopes the campers get interested so they can reap the benefits of the club as well.

"It's crazy. I can't even speak it in words," she said.

"You think of FFA as the typical Future Farmers of America-farming and agriculture and everything like that," Shanklin said, "but, honestly, it's pure leadership."

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