May 2018
Youth Matters

FFA Sentinel: Celebrating FFA Week With a Cause

West Morgan FFA seeks to raise awareness of the dangers of drunk driving.

 

Morgan County Sheriff’s deputies explain one of the possible consequences of driving impaired.

National FFA Week is celebrated around the country by chapters from Alaska to Puerto Rico and from Maine to the Virgin Islands. All chapters take the third week in February to celebrate FFA in their communities.

FFA has the second largest convention in the United States, only behind the Democratic National Convention.

West Morgan FFA Chapter celebrates every year, but this year we decided to raise awareness of the dangers of drunken driving. Alcohol is America’s most abused substance. In fact, over 10,000 people die from drunken driving every year in the United States alone.

To kick off our FFA Week celebration, we had the Alabama FFA State Vice President John Crawford speak to us about his journey to become a state FFA officer. Crawford shared how he got involved in FFA and his FFA story. While he visited, he helped us learn about different opportunities each individual has in FFA.

We also played games that helped build teamwork and leadership as a chapter.

State and district FFA officers visit chapters throughout their year of service, sharing and spreading the news about FFA.

Our focus, as a service project for FFA Week, was raising awareness about the negatives of drunken driving. Alabama has a very high drunken driving death rate that inspired us to make it one of our focuses.

We raised awareness by having a driving course set up to simulate what it is like to drive drunk. We used a golf cart as a car and cones to mimic a road and other obstacles you encounter while driving.

Students discussed the difficulties of driving impaired.

 

One of our chapter sponsors, Decatur Golf Carts, donated a golf cart so we could drive it through our road course.

Our school’s Student Resource Officer Keith Pepper spoke to us about some of his encounters while on duty and his dealings with drunken drivers.

Officers from Morgan County Sheriff’s Department presented facts, stories and live footage of drunken driving accidents and arrests that have happened in just our county. The Sheriff’s Department loaned us impaired-vision goggles that simulated the feeling of driving drunk.

Pepper shared that one in four teens will drive drunk before they are 21 and about one in three traffic deaths in the United States involve a drunken driver. Of Alabama’s population, 1.7 percent reported driving after having too many drinks – around 18,639 of them were arrested for driving under the influence.

 

Students also had the opportunity to attempt field sobriety tests with the impaired-vison goggles.

In Alabama, the number of drunken driving incidents is rising steadily. This increase in accidents is also causing more deaths, not only in Alabama but all across the nation. From 2015 to 2016, the amount of drunken-driving deaths in Alabama increased by nearly 850 people. In the United States, men are more likely to die in a drunken driving accident than women. The median age range of a drunken driver is 21-34 years, followed by people over 35.

Efforts to help raise awareness on substance abuse have had a positive impact in our school and community.

Using the driving course, students were more willing to get involved and had more fun than if they would have had to sit through a lecture in class. Teachers, administrators and others got involved as well to help raise awareness throughout the whole community.

FFA is a student organization that remains about service through agriculture education and community involvement. Our chapter promoted the responsible choice of abstaining from drinking and driving, and informed our FFA members, student body and community about the dangers of driving while under the influence.

FFA members, think about all the ways your chapter can support your community through service.

 

Charlee Freeman is a member of the West Morgan FFA Chapter in Morgan County.