Career and Technical Education students from McKay in the Salem-Keizer FFA Chapter got up extra early last weekend. That’s because they volunteered all weekend at the Oregon Ag Fest, giving out free starter plants to visitors who dropped by the Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN) booth.

Royal Scots freshman Rebekah Major says volunteering last weekend at the OAN booth tested students’ social skills, helped them improve problem solving and taught them how to work quickly to help customers. The OAN supports McKay’s agriculture program and the FFA chapter by donating giving students a chance to win scholarships, and by donating money to help raise the next generation of agricultural professionals.

FFA students at Oregon Ag Fest 2019

Agriculture teacher Gearld Hosler says there are 30 students in the Salem-Keizer FFA Chapter, and about 300 students who study agriculture in Career and Technical Education classes at McKay High School.

FFA teachers at Oregon Ag Fest 2019

Pictured from left: Volunteer Nicole Billington who is the parent of a McKay High grad and is the advisor of the Camelids and Critters 4H Club; McKay plant science teacher and Salem-Keizer FFA Chapter co-advisor Krysta Phillips; and McKay agriculture teacher and Salem-Keizer FFA advisor Gerald Hosler.

FFA at Ag Fest 2019

McKay teacher Krysta Phillips says she loves the Oregon Ag Fest, and has been bringing her children to the event for years. She says Salem-Keizer FFA students learn professional skills like customer service and benefit from interacting with people from the very young to seniors. McKay teacher Gearld Hosler says that Salem-Keizer FFA students learn professional skills like accountability, time management and communication. He said another important skill students learn is how to answer customers’ questions.