WEEKI WACHEE — As Weeki Wachee High School grows, it continues to add extracurricular organizations to serve its students. One of those is an FFA chapter.
Under adviser and environmental water technology teacher Kara Pirolo, the fledgling group has a membership of more than 20. FFA is the professional organization that complements her three-year environmental water technology courses, Pirolo explained.
The courses focus on water resources and sustainability. Students completing the advanced-level course earn water tech certification.
FFA promotes leadership, opportunities for personal and professional growth, career options and scholarships.
Leaders of the Weeki Wachee High group recently gathered to talk about why they joined and what it means to them.
"Our National FFA Organization is trying to promote leadership within our group," said senior Karianna Mandaglio, 17, the group's reporter.
"And agricultural education," added junior and FFA secretary Julia Mariana, 17.
"For the future," finished sophomore and FFA historian Siobhan Grube, 16.
"I'm here because I thought that farming would be an interesting subject," said freshman and group parliamentarian Kenneth Stage, 15.
Stage hopes next year to raise rabbits to show at the Hernando County Fair. Thinking about his future, he said law enforcement is a possibility, but he might want to own an agribusiness "because I know that the future depends on sustainable agriculture."
Said Mariana: "I'm in FFA because I love agricultural studies, and I thought it would be a great experience for me because I plan to pursue my career in environmental policy."
Senior and FFA president Travis Huber, 17, said he joined the organization "because I was in last year's environmental club with our copacetic teacher, Mrs. Pirolo."
Huber plans to attend Flagler College to become an industrial organizational psychologist "to make businesses better organized and boost morale among employees," he said. He added that FFA is teaching him integrity and professionalism.
Mandaglio said she has a different kind of reason for joining FFA.
"I believe that being part of something that's bigger than you are can, in time, push you to be a better you," she said. "FFA has helped me in so many ways."
She gave the example of addressing freshmen at their orientation as a chance to practice public speaking skills. She hopes to attend the University of Central Florida to study writing.
Grube hopes to have her own business in cosmetology, but sees the value in supporting a cleaner environment through sustainable agriculture.
"I also want to be a gardener," she said.
The Weeki Wachee FFA is involved in the community. Adopt-a-Road is one of its projects. Some of the members also competed in the recent Nature Coast Envirothon, and they hope to have members showing at the county fair next year.
The Weeki Wachee FFA chapter's vice president is senior Emily Joswick, 18. The treasurer is freshman Tyler Austin, 15.