Marshalltown High School charters first FFA chapter

PHOTO COURTESY MARSHALLTOWN FFA Members of the newly chartered Marshalltown FFA chapter — from left to right, senior Cristover Magana Duran, junior Kyran Stanfield, Key Cooperative representative Greg Artz, Advisor Tara Gray, and junior Lydia Colwell — recently accepted a $1,222 donation from Key Cooperative.

Marshalltown High School has officially chartered the district’s first FFA chapter this week with the new organization now providing students an additional avenue into the agriculture field in the area.

MHS joins over 280 other schools across the state who are home to a FFA chapter. With 12 members currently, the fledgling club has been steadfastly working to bolster their ranks of students as they enter in their first year as a chartered organization.

“[We’re] trying our best to recruit people to do it, finding people who are interested and trying to get them interested in doing it as well,” said Lydia Colwell, president of the chapter and a junior at MHS.

For her, and many others, the chapter helps to provide a way into their preferred field of study and gives them valuable firsthand knowledge as they continue their academic careers.

“My goal is to be a veterinarian. So it lets me get some experience for that,” she said.

In the same vein, the chapter gives students a structured process to further discover their interests in agriculture, like Kyran Stanfield, a MHS junior who discovered his passion on his grandparents’ farm.

“From a young age when I was going there, I was always having fun,” Stanfield said. “They’re always helping people with things, and I’ve always had an interest in it. I don’t know what I really want to do yet in agriculture, but I’m thinking somewhere on the science-y side, like agronomy, and maybe horticulture…I like learning about [agriculture]. It’s interesting, and it’s easier for me to learn because I like it.”

As FFA advisor and MHS agriculture instructor Tara Gray explained, the FFA chapter can assist students by opening their eyes to careers that are not always what people imagine when they think about agriculture.

“It sounds really cliche, but I like to say it’s more than the plow, the cow, and the sow. There’s a lot of things that can happen within agriculture, and there’s big niches within agriculture,” she said. “That’s the cool thing. There’s business, there’s plant science, there’s ag-mechanics. There’s just so many fields that the possibilities are limitless.”

Especially considering the current economic climate, and the aging population of Iowa’s farmers, Gray says organizations like FFA are sorely needed to replenish the strong agriculture tradition in Iowa.

“I feel like now more than ever, every place is hurting for employees, but agriculture is going to need a lot of employees coming up here in the next few years, when our average farm age keeps rising. Someone’s got to fill those gaps,” she said. “There’s just a world of possibilities if kids want to. I think they’re going to be in a better position than even we were because they’re going to be able to bargain a lot more or be selective of what they want, because those opportunities are going to be there for them.”

With a calendar chock full of events, conferences, and projects to be completed, including several events in the coming months, students will have plenty of opportunities to get involved in FFA affairs locally and across the state.

“There’s events all throughout the year, I tell these guys you can be as active and involved as you want,” Gray said. “Another piece that they wanted to do was really trying to focus on getting their faces seen and heard at the elementary level, and hopefully that will help a little bit with our recruitment too as they get older.”

For now, the sky’s the limit for the students in Marshalltown FFA as they begin to build the foundation of their organization with the future in mind.

“It’s kind of fun to start things,” Colwell said.

Stanfield added, “[We’re] starting off and learning on the way, feeling stuff out, and going into it not knowing exactly what’s going to go down, but [we’re] experiencing it and having fun with that at the same time.”


Contact Nick Baur

at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or



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