Education feature: Future Farmers of America program trains students in hard work, responsibility

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Clovis High School junior Jeremy House walks the tritacale crop daily at the high school’s to check the plants and sprinkler.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

Nobody told Landyn Graham that training his horses would be easy, but difficulty wasn’t enough of a deterrent.

Graham, Clovis High School sophomore and Future Farmers of America reporter, has trained horses since sixth grade.

“Training them myself is the only way I’ll get them the way I want them,” Graham said. His buckle-winning 3-year-old horse stood calmly next to him. “I like a horse calm so I train them that way.”

Since age 12, Graham has trained four horses. Last year, at Expo New Mexico, he won high point individual for his two-year-old horse.

Graham said it takes 60 days minimum to train a horse to be able to ride it in a quiet pasture.

“I just feel it when they’re ready for me to get on them,” he said.

Graham is one of 73 students involved in CHS’s FFA program. FFA advisor Mark Runyan said the FFA teaches students a number of invaluable traits.

“It teaches leadership and gives them a sense of self value,” Runyan said.

Each student in FFA works on a project. The students in CHS’s FFA are working on projects such as raising swine, making a horse trailer and raising a home garden.

Many of the projects are taken to district and state competitions, where the students are graded on every aspect of the project, including how efficiently they completed the project.

“It teaches them to watch where they’re spending their money and time management,” Runyan said. “And they learn to be responsible for another living creature.”

Junior Jeremy House doesn’t work with living creatures, but is responsible for the tritacale crop growing at the high school’s farm on west 21st Street. House never lived on a farm, but heard stories from his father who used to be a farmer. Those stories were enough to draw him to FFA.

“I always liked tractors and stuff and it’s great getting to do something I like. I liked welding so I took ag mechanics,” House said.

Edwin Ford, the ag mechanics teacher, works closely with Runyan and the FFA. Ford suggested House join FFA. House checks the ag farm field daily.

Last year at the state fair, the high school’s FFA program took sweepstakes of ag mechanics.