For the past three years, Lakeview High School student Makenna Frenzen has done something a little bit different for her SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) project.
The SAE project is designed to allow most Future Farmers of America members, like Frenzen, to work with cattle, livestock, sheep or other animals. Frenzen, however, had something slightly different in mind. She wanted to educate young children about agriculture and give something back to her community in return.
“I decided to do something with kids and spread the word of agriculture,” Frenzen said. “I reached out to my cousin, who is an ag adviser, and she gave me the idea of starting a fun day or camp for middle-school-aged students.”
So, as a sophomore, she began the FFA Fun Day, an event that began as a small collection of games and activities, but has now expanded into something larger. She had a very good turnout of 53 people for that first event, and it has continued to grow and grow. Last Saturday, 130 elementary-aged children showed up to Lakeview to participate in games that teach them about where their food comes from, watch movies about agriculture, and even do some sack races and tug-of-war for good measure.
This year’s event also included a visit from an officer of the Nebraska state FFA office, Savannah Gerlach of the Tri-County FFA. She participated in booths that taught students about food production. It’s a testament to how the event has grown in recent years that people statewide are taking notice of the event and taking part.
“She really spoke a lot and now they’re able to learn even more about ag and FFA,” Frenzen said. “She ran a station where they were able to learn more about food production and agriculture and how that relates to them. She did different games for each age group.”
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The event had plenty of support from her family and her teachers, including Emilye Vales, the agricultural studies teacher at Lakeview. Although Frenzen has mostly done the event on her own without too much help, she still enlists the aid of people like Vales when she needs help with something.
“We’ve been giving her guidance along the way with things that she needs help with, from planning to gaining support,” Vales said. “A lot of that, (however), Makenna has done on her own.”
Indeed, Vales noted that she was able to gain support from sponsors like Union Bank and Trust, Pinnacle Bank East, Frontier Cooperative, Farm Credit Services and Bank of the Valley. Her commitment and passion for what she does is something that has impressed people like Vales, who is in her first year at Lakeview but has already gained an appreciation for what Makenna does.
“Makenna is someone who is very passionate about what she believes in and passionate about educating others, especially youth,” Vales said. “(She’s) someone who cares about everyone around her. Makenna’s just a very caring person in general and it doesn’t really matter who it is, but I’d think she’d always have your back.”
Frenzen noted that other schools have taken notice and want to do something similar in their communities through their FFA chapters. Although she is a senior, she said hopes that the Lakeview FFA can continue the fun day and continue building on what she has built in just three short years at Lakeview.
“Kids love learning,” Frenzen said. “Our Lakeview community is really involved in FFA and agriculture, and for those young kids to be able to understand that, it’s really rewarding.”
Zach Roth is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com.