Supporting Mike Earll and the FFA

In tough economic times, it’s understandable that cities, counties and schools are looking wherever they can to make budget cuts.

But as I sat inside the auditorium of Sibley-Ocheyedan High School Wednesday night, I couldn’t help thinking a planned cut in the summer contract for the school’s only agriculture education instructor and FFA advisor was a bad idea.

As a four-year FFA alum and Minnesota FFA degree holder, I am a proud supporter of the program that teaches students so many life skills.

When I returned to my hometown newspaper more than five years ago and introduced myself to the area agriculture teachers, I quickly learned that Mike Earll is one of those gems that will do anything he can to promote the FFA. His chapter has had so many successes in recent years, and he is always quick to recognize his students for the work they’ve done.

Earll presented several statistics and successes of the S-O FFA Chapter at Wednesday night’s meeting — information that didn’t make it into Thursday’s edition of the Daily Globe, yet should not go unnoticed.

The chapter was named a National Model of Innovation finalist twice in the last three years, and has been in the Top 20 in the National Chapter Award in 14 of the last 15 years, earning the state award three times.

While just a fraction of 1 percent of all FFA members ever go on to earn their American FFA degree, S-O FFA has 14 of them (six between 1936 and 1980, and eight between 1981 and 2009). Earll, himself a graduate of the high school, is counted among them.

As for Iowa FFA degree recipients, the chapter boasts 215 (49 between 1936 and 1980, and 166 between 1981 and 2009). The chapter has been home to seven Iowa FFA officers between 1981 and 2009, and had 31 Northwest District FFA officers during that same time.

In order for students to achieve such honors, it requires dedication on the part of the FFA advisor, and Earll told board members Wednesday night that between July 2008 and April 26 he has worked 26 out of 33 Saturdays and 16 of the 34 Sundays. Between the weekend hours and additional time spent before and after school — and during the summer — he has logged 971.75 hours of unpaid work.

Now, how many employees out there are willing to put in that much extra time and not be compensated for it? Earll’s compensation, I guess you could say, is the satisfaction in knowing he had a hand in helping his students build a strong foundation for success.

Loretta Berkland, an FFA parent and supporter of Earll, addressed the board Wednesday night saying that instead of trying to cut the ag instructor’s summer contract, they should have called a public meeting to congratulate and thank Earll for the dedication and commitment he has had to the students, the agriculture program and the FFA chapter for the past 29 years.

I couldn’t agree more.

8 thoughts on “Supporting Mike Earll and the FFA

  1. Great article and Blog. Not sure where the other comment went. There was one on here last night posted by someone in Brewster.

  2. Mr. Earll is a man with a great deal of integrity. We should all take his message seriously that there are problems at SOS. His taking a stand should bring some of the other issues to the surface. It was more than a little obvious that the superintendent wanted to control the meeting and all present. It was extremely easy to conclude that the LAST thing he wanted to have happen was for anyone present to speak. And, since when is he in a position to call for a motion, second and a vote of the school board. Is that not the role of the President of the Board. It’s time for the members of the school board to take their respective jobs seriously and do what we elected them to do. A starting point would be to take the open meetings laws seriously. It might not be a violation to have one on one meetings behind closed doors with the superintendent but it isn’t the right thing to do. The citizens of the School District need to demand more accountability from the school board members – collectively and individually. I’m not sure why some of these guys even ran for the school board. They don’t seem to have a clue as to what they are supposed to do. They sure don’t do any research. Puppets?

  3. Thank you both for your comments. TT: The comment made by the person from Brewster was attached to the story I wrote about Wednesday’s meeting, not my blog. We appreciate all comments!

  4. Thank you for covering this issue from the view point of someone outside the district. I hope that those in the district will now start to open their eyes and see what the Superintendent is really doing. What is really going on in our district? He thinks that the rural families in the district are a “minimal factor”. I think he is finding out other wise

  5. Thank you for covering this issue from the view point of someone outside the district. I hope that those in the district will now start to open their eyes and see what the Superintendent is really doing. What is really going on in our district? He thinks that the rural families in the district are a “minimal factor”. I think he is finding out other wise

  6. This whole thing just keeps snowballing. Bigger and bigger and hopefully more people are seeing and hearing what is truely going on. It all started with the closing of the Ocheyedan center and now the staff. More people in this district need to start voicing their concerns and demand answers to to many questions that have been left unanswered. It’s time for OUR school board members to listen to us, a community and not ONE person. Wake up school board. It is no longer just us here in little town Ocheyedan seeing things for what they actually are, people outside this district see it for what it has become. A tragedy.

  7. I think Sherie is making a good point. One question just seems to lead to another. It appears their are more questions then answers.

  8. Isn’t it interesting to note that the Sibley Newspaper refuses to send anyone to cover the meetings and refuses to include an article.

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