The McDowell Future Farmers of America (FFA) Alumni officially chartered their new organization on Thursday, Feb. 8, and received a hefty grant for the student-run organization at the high school.

The mission of the National FFA Alumni Association is to support and advocate for agricultural education and FFA through gifts of time, talent and financial resources at the local, state and national levels. The McDowell FFA Alumni Chapter started toward that mission at their chartering ceremony Thursday.

Maranda Schill, president of the McDowell FFA Chapter, welcomed those in attendance and thanked them for the support they have already provide to the FFA Chapter. Guests were encouraged by remarks from Madeline Wilhelm, North Carolina FFA state vice president, who spoke about the impact FFA Alumni has made on her life, and the potential for the McDowell FFA Alumni to impact hundreds of students now and long into the future.

Kerry Stainbeck, vice president of the North Carolina FFA Alumni Council, challenged the attendees to support the program with their time, expertise and passion. He mentioned that students need that adult connection from the community more than ever.

During the program, the McDowell FFA Chapter was presented with a $5,000 dollar grant from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund to install an aquaculture system in the agriculture laboratory and classroom. Andy VonCanon, Western Regional Agriculture education coordinator, presented the grant and mentioned the chapter was one of 35 to receive a grant in North Carolina.

Greg Anderson, president of the McDowell FFA Alumni Chapter, wrapped up the evening by encouraging those in attendance to join the Alumni Chapter and give of their time and talents to help our students take advantage of the many opportunities available in the FFA.

Community members interested in joining the McDowell FFA alumni should contact Clark Adams via email at You do not have to have been in FFA in high school to be a member of the FFA Alumni.