BY JACLYN ROSE –
Founded in 1928, the Future Farmers of America is a fantastic organization that has a remarkably positive influence on young people in this country. Likewise, 4H, an organization that began well over 100 years ago, has a stellar reputation for encouraging and building up youth. Both groups are vital in Polk County. In addition to teaching about raising animals and farming, these organizations also teach structure, the value of hard work, public speaking and the value of presenting oneself in a positive light, all in an environment that is fun and exciting so young people do not always realize they are hard at work learning valuable lessons.
The Cossatot River Ag Booster Club is a group of adults who understand the importance of these programs for our community. They work hard to assist not only these programs, but the entire Agriculture Department at Cossatot River Schools. Booster Club Member, Hershel Bell explains, “These are great kids who benefit from the opportunities these clubs and organizations provide. They are expensive, showing animals require entry fees, judging contests require hotel fees, and fuel, as do conventions. The Ag Booster Club works hard to provide assistance to as many kids as we can, some of them wouldn’t be able to go without our help.”
The Booster Club was started about two years ago and is comprised of both the former Van-Cove Ag Booster Club and the former Wickes Ag Booster Club. “I’m really impressed with the way both of these groups have come together to help all of our kids,” said Bell. Last year the Booster Club was able to raise and donate over $13,000 with $3,000 of that going to pay entry fees for the students to show their various animals, $2,000 for the National Convention and the rest for State Convention, judging trips, shooting sports trips, ammo for shooting practice and other various activities. According to Bell, one hundred percent of the proceeds go to the students.
While the Ag Booster Club works on various fundraisers throughout the year, the largest and most profitable is the Gun Raffle. For $50 a person can purchase one of only 1,000 raffle tickets available from an Ag Booster member. Each ticket is good for a full year, 52 drawings. One winner is named each week based on the Arkansas Lottery Pick Three Number chosen on Saturday nights. The Booster Club announces the winner on their Facebook Page and various other media outlets. Bell explained that there are quality guns won each week: “Henry Rifles, 12 gauge shot guns and many others and with only 1,000 tickets sold, the odds are good, especially if you purchase more than one.” Any readers interested in purchasing tickets for the gun raffle can contact Hershel Bell at 479.243.5613, Josh Canada at 870.784.1846 or any member of the Cossatot River Ag Booster Club.
Scott Morgan, one of two Agri teachers for Cossatot River has nothing but praise for the Booster Club, “The Cossatot River Ag Booster Club helped fund out trip to this year’s National FFA Convention, helped pay entry fees for livestock shows along with other show related expenses and if there is a student in need they are quick to step up and help out. They believe in agriculture and our youth and are willing to do anything possible to improve their experience.” Monte Fain, who also teaches Agri at Cossatot River explained some of the other ways the Booster Club assists his students, “Members also provide service to our chapter directly by assisting with cde training, livestock projects, and shooting sports; transporting students and animals; chaperoning events; and advising on different aspects of the program. We greatly appreciate our Booster Club. Everything we do gets more expensive every year. It would not be possible to do what we do without their support.”
The Booster Club is also working towards creating corporate sponsorships to create a foundation for college scholarships. “We believe every student should have the opportunity to attend college and we want to see our kids coming back and taking on leadership roles in our own county. These are great kids and we want to help get them the tools and education they need to succeed,” said Bell.