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home : news : news Tuesday, May 24, 2016

2/16/2013 Email this articlePrint this article 
Looking back on 50 years. Ed Faselt, 81, of DeWitt looks at one of his old annuals from Northeast High School, where he was the first FFA advisor. Faselt says Northeast has developed a top-notch chapter, one with which he is proud to be associated. By the time Faselt left the school in 1983, girls were able to join FFA and more and more students were interested in participating in the program. “There were lots of changes that took place over the years,” he relates. “There are plenty of more changes to come.” Photo by Kate Howes (ne first ffa chapter) (faselt, ed) Northeast FFA’s first chapter advisor Ed Faselt says throughout his 20 years with the program, more and more students every year took an interest in participating. Faselt also notes, many of his students went on to enjoy a variety of successful careers in the agricultural industry. “Kind of hard to believe 50 years has gone by already,” he shares. Contributed photo
Where it all began. The very first FFA officers at Northeast High School in Goose Lake in 1963 were (from left) Chuck Claussen, president; Ken Tietjens, treasurer; Larry Laing, secretary; Duane Ronnfeldt, vice president; Bob Naeve, representative; and Gerald Hill, sentinel. Contributed photo
NE FFA in search of past presidents
Northeast High School FFA advisor Joel Frost would like to acknowledge FFA students past and present at the banquet this spring and is looking for help in finding the names of past chapter presidents.

Names are needed for the following years: 1964, 1975-1977, 1980, 1982, 1985 and 1993.

Anyone who can help Frost fill in the blanks is asked to contact him at Northeast by calling 563-577-2249.

NEHS recognizes half a century of FFA

By Kate Howes
Staff writer

Fifty years ago, in February 1963, Northeast High School's FFA program officially was chartered.

The school's current FFA advisor, Joel Frost, credits all those who have championed the program and enabled it to flourish into what it has become today.

"The community and the school's administration have just been tremendous in terms of supporting (FFA)," Frost relates. "Everyone really has been just first-rate and has understood just how important the program truly is. The parental support has been exceptional as well. They have kept the message of agriculture and its importance in the forefront of everyone's minds. We can't thank them enough for that."

Also lending their unyielding assistance and support are members of the Northeast FFA Alumni program, which happens to be celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

Frost notes, in the grand scheme of things, 50 is fairly young for an FFA program.

However, it's a program steeped in history and has become a proud tradition for all those associated with Northeast FFA.

One such person is the very man who helped start the program, Ed Faselt of DeWitt.

Faselt was Northeast's first FFA advisor, a position he held until he left the school in 1983.

At the time, it was a much different program than what it has evolved into today, Faselt notes.

"Back then, we mainly wanted to teach the students the skills they were going to need to become farmers," he relates. "That's exactly who the program was for - male students who were intending to be future farmers."

Faselt says he used to take his students on field trips, such as to a hatchery in Clinton, and special facilities that housed livestock, including hogs.

They also participated in the Quaker Oats program, which required students to grow oats. Any money they made off the yield was turned in to Quaker Oats, and the school that generated the most money was the winner. All the participants were honored at a special banquet each year in Cedar Rapids.

Faselt also had his students assist local farmers and farm families by helping them perform various chores.

The farm industry of 50 years ago was far different than what it's evolved into today, Faselt notes.

In 1963, many FFA students intended to buy farms of their own after they graduated from high school.

"Now owning your own farm is almost impossible to do unless a person has a family farm he can inherit or take over," Faselt says. "Things certainly have changed over the past 50 years. In some ways, they've changed for the better; in other ways, not so much."

One thing 81-year-old Faselt can't believe is how quickly his time at Northeast passed - a time he truly enjoyed, spent cultivating a program of which he was very proud to be a part.

"It's kind of hard to believe that many years has gone by already," Faselt says with a smile. "The days just go by so quick. In recent years, they've really developed the FFA program into so much more, and that's good for the students. All the activities they have available for them now are so helpful in helping them develop all kinds of skills. That's so important and I'm glad they're doing that. They've done really well at Northeast with the FFA program. They've done a great job."

Farming: It's all about food

Frost says basically the message he relays to his students today is that modern-day farming all boils down to one thing.

"It's all about food," he relates. "It's a simple message, but true. Every day there are more and more people farmers need to help feed. That's the bottom line, and that's what it's all about."

Now in his 14th year as Northeast's FFA advisor, Frost says as gradual as the changes in the program have been since its inception, things are drastically different than they were half a century ago.

His goal is to make sure his students stay on the cutting edge of agriculture, no matter what changes are on the horizon.

"The program used to focus more on production agriculture; growing crops and raising livestock," Frost notes. "Now it's more about production, processing and marketing of food. Agronomy and the feed business are huge today. The technical aspect also has changed and improved with Global Positioning Systems (GPS).

"In terms of careers in agriculture, you never know how you'll connect to it. There are scientists, engineers, educators, marketing people and laborers who are involved with agriculture. Being involved in FFA has really paved the way to various career paths for our students," he continues.

"When this program first began, about three-quarters of the students were farm kids. Now maybe half of the students actually have been born and raised on farms. We really don't see kids come in with nearly as much agriculture experience as they once did - that's the overall trend," Frost says.

"When they enter FFA, we try to expose them to a broader picture in terms of job opportunities for the future. We've had so many successful students who have earned their American Degrees and who have gone on to enjoy successful careers.

"Our objective always has been and always will be to help kids to improve and develop the skills they have."

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