At the 2013 Backyards and Beyond conference in Salt Lake City, I had the honor of meeting Jessica Santoyo with the Eureka County Natural Resources Department in Nevada. She shared a unique youth program in their county where the local high school’s chapter of the Future Farmers of America (FFA)* works on an annual Firewise project. It was one of those testimonials that immediately resonates as as an exemplary out-of-the-box example of how youth can have a role in learning about Firewise; and how they can make a positive contribution to their community.
The students grow fire resistant plants in their school’s greenhouse as a class project and in turn they learn about fire resistant species and their benefits. When the plants are ready the local Firewise program purchases them and gives them out at no cost during an annual event, which this year was held on May 3 – Wildfire Community Preparedness Day. Students create posters depicting what they learned about fire resistant plants and those are prominently displayed at the event and they also staff the booth where the plants are distributed. They can count their volunteer time as community service hours for FFA or scholarship applications. This year’s event engaged 50 volunteers and attracted more than 250 attendees.
*The National FFA Organization is a dynamic youth organization that changes lives and prepares students for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. An example of what works well in education, FFA is an intracurricular organization that implements the three-circle model of education – classroom instruction, hands-on learning and leadership development through FFA programs.