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Front Range Young Farmer Chapter wins Colorado's top community service award

Colorado


The Outstanding Chapter Community Service Award for 2009 went to the Front Range Chapter. Pictured here (l to r) is chapter advisor Steve Sterkel and his wife Michelle and Darrell Johnston and his wife Cindy Johnston. Cindy is president of the Front Range Chapter. She is also the national president this year. Courtesy photo.)

If anyone can understand the importance of having enough food to eat, it is definitely those who are actually producing food at the most basic level--from the ground up. So, when members of the Front Range Chapter headquartered in the Fort Lupton and Brighton area were told that the demand for food at Fort Lupton's branch food bank center had doubled, they knew they had to help. Eight hundred pounds of food later, their efforts have not gone unnoticed. The chapter was selected to receive the top award in the state for community service work.

The Front Range Chapter has been involved with the Fort Lupton food bank for a number of years now, and has witnessed the need for food by those who cannot buy it for themselves, double. "Over the last four years, the total pounds of food distributed by Front Range food banks has doubled," notes Cindy Johnston, chapter president. "We have worked hard to try and keep up with this increased demand."

Rather than canvas the area asking others to donate their canned goods and non-perishable food items, the Front Range Young Farmer Chapter members decided instead to raise money to give to the food bank so that it would have flexibility to purchase the most needed items. To raise money, and for several years now, the group collects donations in a "tip" jar at its annual fundraiser and passes the hat to collect loose change from members at each meeting throughout the year.

Through the collection of small change, enough dollars were raised for the food bank for it to be able to purchase an estimated 800 pounds of food to be given away to those in need. What was especially nice about this was that because the donation came in dollars, the food bank personnel were able to buy some fresh items that otherwise cannot be stored for any length of time.

While helping take on the issue of hunger in their area is their major annual project, the chapter also finds other ways to provide community service.

In December of 2008, the chapter took their involvement in helping the less fortunate one step further when it adopted two families through the "Almost Home" program. They provided grocery gift cards for the family and also purchased and delivered gift items from a wish list to their homes during the holidays.

Members of the chapter also spent a Saturday volunteering at the Inn-Between transitional housing facility located in Longmont to help paint walls and stain woodwork. This is a facility where people can go when they need a place to stay for one night or for up to a month as they make transitions in their life from one home to another or from one job to another.

Other chapter projects include: participating in a highway clean-up project in conjunction with the Country Circle, a local women's group in Fort Lupton; assisting the Adams County Farm Bureau to put on the Adams County Farm Days event by acting as group leaders for local elementary students who are being provided information and demonstrations on agriculture; providing Easter lilies to the residents of the Brighton Assisted Care Living facility; and working with the Fort Lupton Special Olympics organization serving as group and activity leaders for the annual field day. Involvement with children is always important to the chapter and it sponsors the annual Cody's Car Show held locally which raises funds and an awareness of autism.

The Front Range Chapter also supports the FFA chapters in Brighton and Ft. Lupton through contributions of both cash and manpower. Monies donated to these groups help offset the cost of special leadership programs or trips that are part of the agriculture education curriculum at the high school level. This has included participation in state and national conventions, leadership training and career development events.

Steve Sterkel is Chapter Advisor for the Front Range Young Farmers.

Among activities done by the chapter to help raise funds to split between the two FFA chapters have been Casino Nights, silent auctions, helping prepare, serve and clean up after meals done by the chapters that also served as fundraisers. The Front Range Chapter also provides a $500 scholarship to one graduating senior from both the Fort Lupton FFA Chapter and the Brighton FFA Chapter each year.

Finally, the Chapter makes annual donations to various memorials and it supports the Colorado Foundation of Agriculture Ag in the Classroom program.



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