The youth event that seems to stand out each year is Charlotte County’s annual FFA and 4-H Awards Banquet.
Each year, family, friends, teachers and coaches come as the guests of students that either attend Central Middle School or Randolph-Henry High School. Taken at face value, the students are a representative cross section of the diverse qualities within the communities and neighborhoods that together make up the population of Charlotte County.
Regardless of diversity, there is a common bond among the students attending each year’s banquet. Each is a member of Charlotte County’s chapter of FFA or the Charlotte County 4-H Club.
As middle and high school club affiliations go, the level of personal commitment that these students exhibit is phenomenal. Most of the county’s FFA students serve consistently, not just within a single school year, but repeatedly, upholding their FFA commitments from the beginning of middle school right through their high school graduations and often returning to some level of service as postgraduates. The list of achievements credited to the young members is long.
Additionally, the prior achievements are recognized by those that serve after. They are furthered, built upon, expanded and honored in such a way that members following them might example their own efforts. It is a commitment that began as it stands today in the early 1990s with no hint of expiring or even slowing down.
The FFA students attending Randolph-Henry High School’s agriculture and horticulture classes are the primary stewards of a, diverse and productive 140-acre livestock, poultry, aquaculture and horticulture farm currently in full operation behind the high school. The agriculture program director, Jim Pugh, refers to it as the “land lab.”
The recent awards banquet included, in addition to the recognition of a list of individual as well as group achievements that will serve as an example for new members, the execution of another important ceremony: the appointment of new officers by those currently serving and soon leaving their posts.
Recognition of service, accountability, adherence to a set of standards, accepting and assigning responsibility and doing so responsibly are all basic commitments that the members of Charlotte County’s FFA and 4-H agree to upon joining the organizations.
The annual banquet gives an opportunity to witness and record the accomplishments of this group, both individually and wholly, and gives an exclusive, first-hand view of the transformation from solid and disciplined students into adults with the caliber of character and commitment to service that is an honor for banquet attendees to witness.
Noel Oliver is a freelance writer in southern Virginia.