Texas FFA News   Subscribe
By: Audrey Waddle, Lago Vista FFA
April 01, 2011


When you think of Supervised Agriculture Experiences, generally show animals come to mind. However, when it comes to Lago Vista High School, students had to find a different project as the school doesn't have a barn to raise animals in.  Yet, this did not stop the Lago Vista FFA Chapter from making the most for not only the National  FFA Organization, but their school as well. With that idea in mind, a recycling program was started, and since then, the small Central Texas lake community of Lago Vista has changed. 

The idea for a recycling program started when two students from Lago Vista, Audrey Waddle and Emily Kaczmarek, attended the Washington Leadership Conference (WLC) in Washington, D.C. At WLC, everyone was asked to come up with a Living to Serve Project, in which students come up with a service-based plan to make their community a better place. When thinking about how much paper a student uses daily, the number of students in school multiplied by the number of days we have class and how much paper that equals to be, the idea to create a recycling program was born. The school, at the time, did no have a recycling program, and the Lago Vista FFA Officer Team knew this had to change. With a changing world, Lago Vista FFA members felt it was their duty to change with the world, starting with recycling. 

When the program first began, FFA members found copy-paper boxes located around the school, covered them with paper and spent hours painting them to match the theme of going “green." The boxes were placed in each of the teachers' classrooms throughout the high school. A couple of times a week, a handful of students would take the only one-wheeled trashcan the FFA had and pick up paper. Then, students would take it to the Ag Department, so all the contents could be counted. After the paper had been counted, the FFA advisor and officers would take the paper to the closest recycling-collection dumpster, which was in the next town.

Although the recycling program started small, it didn’t take much time for the idea of going “green” to quickly spread around the school. FFA members encouraged students to do their part in making the world a better place by recycling old papers instead of throwing them away. The amount of paper collected weekly increased dramatically, so much so, the trashcan was even beginning to break from so much use!

About a year later of hard work and limited resources, the Lago Vista FFA Chapter was informed they were chosen to be a recipient of the Living to Serve Grant. With the generous gift from the USDA, the Lago Vista FFA Chapter was able to purchase more wheeled trashcans, that were bigger and sturdier, as well as enough plastic bins that would last longer than cardboard boxes to fill all of the high school classrooms, as well as enough to fill the classrooms of the middle school, which shares a campus with the high school. The USDA also flew the officer team to the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, so the chapter could present their project at the Living to Serve booth in the convention hall. The chapter also presented their project to a room of FFA advisors and the USDA. The officer team was even interviewed at the convention about all of their hard work they put into the project.

With this dedication to making the world a better place, the recycling program has become one of the biggest activities in the whole school, with every classroom in both the middle school and high school participating and over thirty students picking up and sorting items on a weekly basis. This “program” has turned into a daily ritual for Lago Vista students, so much so, that the wood shop side of the Ag Department has become a recycling center, proof of the Lago Vista FFA Chapter’s hard work and determination to lower their carbon footprint. 

Opportunities come in all sorts of forms, each one different from the next. As members of the FFA, it is our duty to take those opportunities by charge, and go above and beyond, just like the Lago Vista Chapter did with their unique SAE. The officer team proved limitations should never pull you down, but in fact, make you work harder and go farther. With shifting the standards to overcome obstacles, an entire community was changed for the better.