OCEAN PARK — At the corner of 249th Place and Vernon is a colorful collection box, a place where people can drop off their refundable bottles and cans. There is also a box at the Surfside compactor facility and a couple more might eventually be set up in other spots on the Peninsula. This fundraiser will help Ilwaco High School FFA members realize some goals and dreams.
FFA (Future Farmers of America) is celebrating its 88th year. According to the state website of this national organization, “The Washington FFA Association provides educational, leadership, and career development opportunities for students enrolled in agricultural education across Washington state.”
But there are financial challenges that need to be met from yearly dues for individual members, to costs of going to state and national conventions. To raise money for those costs and more, a plan had to emerge. And so it did. The current recycling fundraiser was the brainchild of IHS 11th grader Justice Jensen.
An active FFA member, she has plotted out a future that will put what she learns through FFA to real use and she wants other members to be able do the same. Last month from her Ocean Park home she said, “I want to go to college and major in marine biology and pre-vet. I’m currently in the vet science competition.”
When asked by people unfamiliar about FFA, she tells them that yes, it’s about agriculture education “but it also helps build leadership skills.”
Justice explained that the first class FFA members take is “Environmental Science. After that, the second class we take is called Natural Resources.”
So, there’s a lot of science education available, especially since the FFA advisor is IHS science teacher, Shawn Stern. And he has a large and active group.
According to Justice, “There are about 20 (students) that are official active FFA members, which means they come to our meetings. And then, 60-ish that are in ag classes that are considered part of FFA.”
Headed for State in 2019
The Washington State FFA Convention will be held May 9-11 at WSU in Pullman. Justice explained that it is not only an educational venture, but is also “a competitive convention. We have (FFA) competitions, where we start at district level and then we have competitions that start at state level.” From there, she said, the Nationals are an option.
So, as the expenses of the state convention fees for participating, being housed and getting meals loom in the future, Justice’s recycling idea just might bring all that to fruition.
And if it goes really well, the FFA members and some of their parents also hope to attend the FFA Nationals, Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 in Indianapolis, Ind. At this convention, Justice said, they might go for the educational workshops only, and just observe competitions, if they haven’t actually qualified.
Collection boxes are up
“We got permission to do this in October,” Justice said, explaining that the Surfside collection box has been up for about two months and the one at the corner of 249th Place and Vernon Avenue has been there for a month-plus.
Justice’s brother, Micheal, an IHS freshman and FFA member, said that putting up a couple more boxes on the peninsula is being considered. “We are trying to, but we need to see who else will help pick up the cans and bottles.” Right now, it is mostly a Jansen family affair, with Justice and Micheal’s dad, Gordon, emptying the collection boxes and sorting through the contents. The family also accepts drop offs of bags with bottles and cans and responds to phone calls to drive anywhere on the peninsula to pick up sacks. Gordon said one person called and said he had a few sacks of bottles in his garage, but it turned out to be close to 20. Recycling these netted a pretty decent profit for the FFA group.
Gordon inspects everything in the collection boxes or sacks and re-bags them in just the right numbers to comply with the recycling limits per person. Micheal said, “He helps us get the cans and bottles and sorts them in case any nasty stuff is put in the bottles, or if any of them are broken. He doesn’t want us to touch anything that will hurt us.”
FFA members pitch in to help cash in
On Sunday, Dec. 9, with the back of their van filled with sacks of refundables, the Jensen family loaded up, with Justice at the wheel, to go pick up some of the other members to help cash in the cans and bottles.
Not one person is allowed to collect from the contents of all those bags, so on this day, Micheal said they expected to have nine FFA members participating.
Who you gonna call?
Many people have been using the drop boxes, but if they have numerous sacks that need to be picked up, Justice said, “They can call my dad’s number, which is 360-244-3788. Or they can call the school.” That number is 360-642-3731. The front office will pass on the information. Good kids. Good cause. And a great way to clear out that garage full of refundable cans and bottles.