ELDRIDGE, Iowa — Students at North Scott Junior High are a part of the first-ever FFA junior high chapter in the state of Iowa.
Eighth grader Cody Powell is the chapter president. He's had an interest in the agriculture industry his whole life.
"I've just been involved in agriculture since literally the day I was born," Powell said.
He's happy to see the opportunity for younger students to get involved fully with FFA before going to high school.
"With the high school chapter, I have been to a few meetings, but I was usually just there watching," Powell said. "If you join FFA when you're in the smaller grades, there's usually more opportunities that you can do then if you wait a little bit, you'll miss out on a few of those."
Jacob Hunter is the groups advisor.
"It's definitely really cool to see younger students wanting to get involved at this level," Hunter said.
Hunter has worked with the students to get the chapter up and running. Since most surrounding states don't have junior high chapters of FFA either, he had to look a little further for guidance.
"Across the Midwest, there really wasn't a great model of what a junior high program would look like with its own FFA chapter," Hunter said. "So we ended up reaching out to schools in Georgia and Florida and down south to see how do they model their programs."
By chartering their own chapter, it gives students a chance to compete alongside high schoolers. Jordan Jones is the junior high chapters vice president.
"I think throughout this, I've learned a lot of things through leadership skills," Jones said. "I've looked into developing that as I go into high school. And I think it's pretty important that we learn that now."
The North Scott high school FFA program has national recognition. It's what the junior high chapter hopes to do as well, joining their high school on the national stage.
"We've had a lot of really cool accomplishments being top-10 in the nation, in 2020, as well as top 3 percent," Hunter said. "This next year, at the junior high, we're looking to replicate that success."