National FFA Week

Torrington-Lingle FFA

Rhett Breedlove
Posted 2/16/24

This time of year can be a bit of a drag for many. The fun and wholesomeness of the holidays are done, days are still short and the darkness of winter isn’t finished just yet.

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National FFA Week

Torrington-Lingle FFA


GOSHEN COUNTY – This time of year can be a bit of a drag for many. The fun and wholesomeness of the holidays are done, days are still short and the darkness of winter isn’t finished just yet.

Onto the bright side of things however. Torrington athletics are still alive and kicking, the weather is showing signs of wanting to warm up, and the Torrington/Lingle FFA chapter is gearing up for possibly their favorite time of year.

With that, it should be vastly noted that National FFA Week is upon us, and the local chapter has every intention of celebrating in hopes of drawing as many new participants as possible.

For the week of February 17-26, chapter heads and Torrington High School Agriculture instructors Jason Groene and Sabrina Juma have been planning extensively on ensuring that games, food and activities will be a fun success for all who wish to participate. 

According to Groene and Juma, the week marks the beginning of what is sure to be another extremely beneficial year for the chapter.

“Our FFA week always looks so much different than everyone else’s because we have a split chapter if you will,” Groene said. “We have two schools and one chapter. The second half of FFA week for us is State Wrestling, and Regional Basketball. Some of ours will be at the basketball tournament, and some of our FFA activities are stifled by that. They’ve got some activities planned for the first part of the week, and we are hosting the Region Five South District Public speaking contest. We are hosting that at Central Office and there will be us, Southeast, Lusk, Wheatland Middle School, and the new community school at Chugwater. There will be a total of six schools represented. It’s just difficult for us to get everyone together during FFA week. There are always challenges, but we have to work around them and make things happen. We always get by.

“It always makes it a challenge,” Groene continued. “Those are the things that I think you always hear people go, ‘We can’t compete with athletics.’ I’m going to say poppycock, because you just have to be willing to work around getting your kids here. If there’s a will there’s a way with all changes.”

Despite an enormously high student participation in the chapter along with supporting commitments to athletics and other activities, the students have still shown a strong display to reel in as many new people into the upcoming fun as they can.

As stated by Juma, the students have not been phased as shown by their continued hard work and preparation, especially when making sure younger middle and elementary students are involved.

“The students will do some posters advertising some of the benefits of agriculture to hang around the school, and then also they will go over to Lingle and host an ag activity at the elementary,” Juma said. “In Torrington we are going to work in cooperation with the middle school to do an ag Olympics. This is so they will get to have a little relay race with a hay bail. Obviously one kid in a wheelbarrow, while another kid pushes to see who gets the fastest time.”

With of course from the help of their students, both Groene and Juma have an extended list of fun things planned for the week.

One upcoming culinary event has Juma particularly eager and excited for due to the close sense of bonding, and comradery that comes along with it.

“We will do a chapter breakfast to spend time as a chapter together, Juma stated. “The biggest thing that we want to do is try and promote some of our middle schoolers. We want them to start getting excited for FFA and want them to be involved. They are just as important as the high schoolers, and we need more middles schoolers. I call them my littles.

“We are going to have to modify the bags, grain and hay because they are very big,” Juma laughed. “I’m very excited to see our chapter host another event and participate with the middle schoolers. This is going to be the kickoff of our FFA season, so I’m very excited to get the ball rolling fully. We’ve had the ball rolling now for a couple of weeks with our teams, but the mayhem will commence on FFA week.”

Groene concurred with his colleague and former pupil, stating that FFA week has always been a fantastic way to not only become re-engaged with the chapter, but to start focusing on the state convention.

A convention which happens to be roughly less than two months away after the conclusion of the week.

“FFA week is our unofficial kickoff to the spring season and preparing for convention,” Groene stated. “So that’s kind of when your internal clock starts ticking, and you know when that week rolls around it’s go time. That’s what I look forward to the most. Spring is coming, and we’ve picked up work here in the shop. Our classes have gotten increasingly busy, the winter funk is kind of rolling off and spring is starting. That’s what I always look forward to. The kids start to grow and mature the second part in the second semester, and we have a young bunch this year. We don’t have a lot of upper classmen. I would say 75% are freshman and sophomores that will be competing for us. It will definitely be exciting to see how they grow and mature within the next sixty days.”

While both Groene and Juma continued to stay on top of their own teaching responsibilities while giving students some extra-help on a Friday morning; neither was deterred or afraid of embracing changes or new challenges for an oncoming fresh chapter in the world of Torrington/Lingle FFA.

Groene pointed convincingly to a trademark, stencil-painted sign right in the front of his classroom.

“We have to always improve, adapt and overcome,” Groene said. “We just keep plugging away at it. We know what our date is and our end goal. We just have to keep doing what we do to get to that point. In today’s society with today’s student base, they have forgotten that or have not been taught that a whole lot. We have to instill that in them that not everything is going be instant or will always go your way. You have to just keep plugging away at it.”

Although Groene has built a solid reputation in the academic and agricultural industries in Goshen County for well over two decades now, he still advocates that hard work is crucial, but fun should always be in the mix.

“A lot of times we focus on the ‘doing’ part so much that my wife reminds me sometimes that I forget to stop and have fun. Now fun to me is probably different than what it is to a 14, 15, or 16 year old,’ Groene laughed. ‘Those are the things of course that Ms. Juma has on her radar. It takes a world to make the world go round, and that’s why we work together most of the time.”