North Lake FFA takes to the airwaves

North Lake Future Farmers of America (NLFFA) has launched their first podcast project Cowboy Talk accessible at their North Lake FFA Facebook page and at The NLFFA, led by North Lake High School (NLHS) Agriculture Science & Technology teacher and FFA Advisor Chad Waldron, will be following in the footsteps of an old FFA broadcasting tradition which started in the 1930s on national radio and then on the DISH network in 2000. One early broadcast was made by Wyoming state supervisor for agricultural education in 1926 which aired on Denver radio in June.

The NLFFA will broadcast on Mondayís and will be emceed and produced by a team of five FFA members; NLHS juniors FFA president Justin Sharp and Clayton Cooper, seniors Brad Rafini and Sean Cornell. Joe Stone, a recent graduate of NLHS, rounds out the team. "Each podcast will be between 20 - 40 minutes," said Sharpe. "Our plan is to have a segment in each podcast about local and statewide agriculture issues. We will also talk about to people in ag business to hear what the situation is in the U.S."

According to a 2001 essay by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Universityís John Hillison, Professor and Director Agricultural Education and Sharon Williams, Placement Coordinator published in the Journal of Agricultural Education the concept to use the airwaves was discussed as early as 1925 by Future Farmers of Virginia as "becoming a necessity to the farmer in order to keep track of crop prices and markets [and ] be kept informed of the latest methods of agriculture."

The use of radio broadcasts by FFA chapters was so well received that during 1940 1,800 local chapters had produced one or more broadcasts. It was during this time the FFA added a section to their manual with advice on successful broadcasting.

The NLFFA will be producing their podcast from their own studio in the NLHS Ag Building using equipment they purchased through a $1200 Perkins grant. The funds covered the cost of start up equipment. Advertising is available on the podcast and the funds will be used to upgrade and expand the equipment. The team will be using the FFA manual section for Agricultural Communications Career Development Event (CDE) to develop their podcast and hopes to compete at state and national levels.

"We do have an ag communications contest held at the state and national level," said leadership development coordinator Joenelle Futrell of the FFA state office, "a piece of the contest is to show broadcast skill, there is no data on the number of broadcast projects in Oregon."

"We came up with the idea of doing the podcast during one of our classes,î said Waldron, ìit has turned out to be another way to make education fun and have it applicable to real life."

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