The Future Farmers of America (FFA) Creed begins, "I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds."
Our local FFA chapter is putting that into practice with building, giving, learning, and partnering with the community. 
The Local FFA Chapter has had an event filled few weeks, celebrating FFA week, working on projects, helping Texas ranchers and planning a barnyard petting zoo. 
FFA week celebrates the organization's achievements, honors its members, and raises awareness about the importance of agriculture in Kansas.
The Syracuse Chapter celebrated with several daily events including chore clothes/western dress day, teacher appreciation day, official dress, green hand  day, and teacher versus student ag trivia competition. 
Green hand day is first year FFA members who learn about FFA history, mission, creed, and who are regularly enrolled in an Agricultural Education class, can explain the FFA colors, the FFA salute, and the FFA motto, recite the FFA Creed and receive an 80% grade assessment or higher on each paragraph.
Hamilton County Farm Bureau board members showed their support, bringing pizza to the students, donated by Eagle Travel Stops, prior to their trivia competition with the teachers on the last day of FFA week. 
Junior high and high school students cheered on the teams, as they watched FFA students compete against several panels of teachers, willing to show  off their knowledge in the agricultural world. The FFA students were no match for the teachers since many were born and raised on farms and ranches. 
After celebrating a fun week, they soon learned about the fires in the Texas panhandle and assisting the ranchers was the next project for the chapter.
Sponsor Clayton Wharton knew other chapters in the area were assisting so he asked the members if they were willing to help, expecting something small like several bags of milk replacement. 
“President Addison Dikeman suggested donating one thousand two hundred dollars in feed and the other students agreed,” said Wharton, “They knocked it out of the park!”  
Their donation allowed them to purchase 4,000 pounds of range cubes or cake locally from Hatcher Feeds who also donated several bags of milk replacement. The range cubes are a protein supplement fed to cattle when they are out on grass or being fed hay.  
Wharton and fiancé Amy Norton traveled to Canadian, Texas Saturday to deliver the cubes. As they approached Canadian, they saw signs of damage from the fire but also saw a sign of hope with green grass already growing back. “It’s a bad situation but the grass will come back better than it was,” said Wharton. They did see there will be a lot of fence to repair.  
They were given instructions from Cassie at Canadian AH&N, a feed and supplement business, to deliver to Deedy Zybach. 
They arrived about sunset to meet Deedy. They visited and heard stories of devastation and miracles. While their neighbors to the north and south lost their home, theirs was spared. 
Their cattle survived, first, because they were missing ten pair and they had gotten to a spot in a valley that the fire went around and second, the rest of their cattle were in the pens on the east side, the fire crept up on the west side, and the fire was stopped before overtaking the cattle on the east side. 
Norton shared a story of what the next day was for the Zybach ranch, “She said they went out the next day, taking pictures of what they had left, and began rebuilding right then and there.” 
Wharton shared, “They are moving forward. They are putting their heads down and one foot in front of the other. They said they don’t need to wallow in it.” 
A thank you came in the form of a Facebook post by Deedy saying; "On Saturday night two beautiful caring people Amy Norton & Clayton Wharton, showed up in the dark and delivered a blessing to us - complete strangers. But the love for our way of life lead them to us and USD 494 Syracuse FFA Chapter. We can never thank each and every one of you who so graciously helped support us in our time of need. I know we have been blessed, but I know without a doubt that God will richly bless you all for your unselfish giving. Thank you again for having a heart as big as Texas!"
Wharton shared the thank you with the members and told them he was very proud of the kids for being willing to help. The two agreed it was a very humbling experience, seeing the damage, and hearing the stories.
While the fires are under control, a total of 1,580,000 acres are lost. There are thousands of dead livestock and hundreds of lost structures. 
The work of the local FFA Chapter is far from over with upcoming livestock judging, officer interviews, elections, chapter banquet, and summer chapter officer retreat. 
Their latest community project includes constructing a handicapped accessible planter box for the Hamilton County Hospital. The box will be delivered as soon as the finishing touches are stained, sealed, and completed. 
Final plans are in the works for a barnyard/petting zoo, Wednesday, April 17. Look for details in upcoming issues of The Syracuse Journal. 





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