Small Town, Global Impact

FFA Advisor James Abbas teaches at AGWSR High School in Ackley, Iowa. Abbas was looking for a way to help his students see beyond their community and consider issues like global hunger that affect the rest of the world. “I wanted to raise awareness of the issues that exist outside of our classroom, connecting the students to the real world and helping them understand how fortunate we are here in the United States.”

So, in early spring of 2020, Abbas’ agriculture class participated in Growing Hope’s Global Farmer Experience. The students were inspired and immediately decided to find a way to make a difference. Lance Haupt, a local farmer, had joined them that day and he gathered with a group of FFA students after class. When the students expressed their interest in starting a Growing Project, he pledged 12 acres of soybeans to get the project started.

“Partnering with AGWSR is a great way for me to support what Mr. Abbas is doing in his classroom. James provides a good example of what hard work and Godly character look like on a daily basis. This project is important to me because it helps to provide food and resources to areas of the world that are in need and it is a way for me to share some of the blessings that God has given me.”

Rachel Haupt, Lance’s daughter, was one of the project leaders. She used her gifts to develop a brochure to share the project with the local community. Other students used their talents for outreach, and soon the project was underway. The group knew from the beginning that they wanted to make this more than just a one-time thing. “Our goal is to make this an annual project benefitting both the FFA chapter and Growing Hope Globally.”

While COVID made it difficult to hold any events for the wider community, the students were undeterred, and several local agribusinesses joined them. Stine Seed Company donated the soybean seed and worked with the students to run a test plot. Snittjer Grain donated the other inputs.

The first year was a success! The agriculture class declared April 21 as the school’s World Hunger Day. They held an all-school assembly so their fellow students could learn more about the project. They showed videos about Growing Hope Globally and the Honduras Macuelizo program, which they had chosen to support with their crop proceeds. Two FFA officers spoke about hunger and their project. Then the chapter proudly presented a supersized check to Growing Hope staff member Ron De Weerd, representing their $8,341.38 donation. “This organization gives a whole new meaning to ‘raising’ money,” quipped FFA student Lane Abbas.

They were pleased at the way their town worked together to make a difference. “As a community, people donated and came together to support a common goal,” commented Kennedy Dodd. “Everyone knows that hunger is a serious problem, but I never thought we could help so many people around the world from our small town,” added Jenna Shahan.

For Lance Haupt, the difference that the Growing Project will make around the world was only part of the impact. “I hope both the FFA and the school were able to see individuals and businesses volunteer time and money to benefit something other than themselves. Hopefully this will instill a desire for them to continue to serve others in whatever way they can throughout their lives.”

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