Clarke FFA celebrates its past, future
Posted: February 18, 2013
The Winchester Star
BERRYVILLE — Members of Clarke County High School’s FFA club want everyone to know more about them, including 86 years of history.
To spread that knowledge, the FFA will host an event Thursday evening at historic Clermont Farm at 801 E. Main St. in Berryville to mark FFA week.
The public is invited.
There will be a petting zoo for children and a silent auction to raise funds for the FFA.
And FFA members will make a special presentation of historical items to the Clarke County Historical Association.
FFA has a long history in Clarke. Originally the Future Farmers of America, the Clarke chapter traces its roots back to 1927, when both the Berryville and Boyce high schools chartered FFA clubs.
The two separate organizations merged on June 1, 1950, as the two town high schools merged into Clarke County High School.
The name was shortened nationally to FFA in the 1990s to take some of the focus off agriculture, said Maggie Long, club adviser.
Now, the organization is aimed at building leadership.
FFA is for all high school students who want to “grow and develop as leaders,” said President Corey Orndorff, but they can “still learn about agriculture.”
The FFA selected Clermont Farm for the venue because it’s rich with history, said FFA treasurer Peyton Shiley, whose grandfather was a founding member of the Boyce FFA.
Clermont, given to Virginia by the late Elizabeth Rust Williams, was surveyed by George Washington in the 1740s. Per Williams’ will, it will remain in agriculture and be used as a teaching tool.
Thursday’s event will center on the barn at Clermont, Shiley said, and it will be a chance for the public to see the historic property, including a slave quarters.
“There’s lots of history there,” Shiley said.
The event will run from 5 to 7 p.m., said FFA sentinel Helena St. Clair.
FFA secretary Laura Russman said the students are planning a small ceremony to present the local chapter’s history to the CCHA.
The group has pictures and newspaper clippings and scrapbooks dating almost back to the founding of the two original clubs.
The items were unearthed when the move was made from the old high school to the new one last summer.
There’s a scrapbook from the Boyce High School chapter, from the 1939-40 school year, Corey said.
Where else could someone learn that Churchill Digges was the outstanding FFA member from the Northern Virginia District that year?
Jordan Childs showed a photo of her grandfather, David Childs, posed outside the high school shop with a mineral feeder he’d made during his time in FFA.
“He looks the same. He hasn’t changed at all,” she said, adding he is still involved in farming, raising beef cattle, and boarding horses on Triple J Road.
The FFA members are hoping many club alumni will come out to the event and perhaps relive their own history in the clippings and photos that will become part of the local museum archives.
Everyone else is invited, too.
“We want to involve the whole community,” said vice president Catie Hope. “We want to get more in touch with people outside FFA and get them to see what we’re doing.”
— Contact Val Van Meter at email@example.com