When the Blue Springs High School FFA chapter began five years ago, there were only 20 members.

When the Blue Springs High School FFA chapter began five years ago, there were only 20 members.

Now the group, which includes students from both the Blue Springs Freshman Center and Blue Springs High School, has almost 100 members.

“We have increased membership, and we have increased involvement,” said Alyssa Wilt, president of the FFA chapter, at the Blue Springs Board of Education meeting Monday. “We have exponentially increased our club membership, which is terrific.”

FFA was founded in 1928 as a youth organization. No longer does FFA mean Future Farmers of America, as the organization reflects the growing diversity of agriculture. Members of the Blue Springs High School FFA chapter gave a presentation on activities and recognitions students received during the 2009-10 school year. The program is at the Freshman Center as well as both high schools in Blue Springs.

During the past year, four students have earned the Missouri FFA’s highest honor – the State FFA Degree. To receive the award, students must have participated in at least 25 hours within two different community service activities as well as other activities.

Chris Pack, treasurer of the Blue Springs FFA chapter, said the state degrees are just one of the many firsts for the young organization.

“We had our first member participate in the state choir this year,” he said. “And we also had students enter exhibits in three fairs – the Jackson County Fair, the Central District Fair and the Missouri State Fair. Ninety percent of our members earned a gold rating, and the rest earned silver or bronze ratings.”

As far as community service projects, Gayle Bergman said her favorite is the Eating From the Garden program at Thomas Ultican.

“I love to garden and have a garden myself at home,” she said. “We plant lettuce, carrots and strawberries at the school and teach the kids why eating healthy is important. The kids enjoy it, and so do we.”

Jessica Wells, chapter vice-president, said she continues to learn as a member of FFA.

“We have learned how to develop speeches for contest and have improved as public speakers,” she said. “I want to become a state officer and everyone is very willing to help me figure out what I need to know. We have a great time meeting new members at conventions and learning as we go.”