Nonprofit Highlight: Iron Mountain FFA

The Iron Mountain chapter of Future Farmers of America (FFA) was first established in 2018 under the Alaska State FFA Association. The FFA is dedicated to making a positive difference in students’ lives by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education. In Alaska, the FFA strives to find ways to educate the next generation of young Alaskans so that they may be prepared with the tools to feed, fuel, and finance Alaska’s future.

In the short four years that the Iron Mountain FFA has been around, they have made their mark locally, statewide, and nationally. In October 2021, Iron Mountain FFA proudly attended the 93rd National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. The team had competed virtually in Extemporaneous Speaking (Aly Guernsey), Prepared Speaking (Tate Barhaug), and Agriculture Technology and Mechanics (Teak Barhaug, Casey Bryden, Trevor Guernsey, and Corbin Kirchner) before attending, and all received medals. Also attending was Katie Van Buskirk, who had placed first in Veterinary Science at the State competition in April 2021. “What I love most about being a part of the FFA is connecting with people across the country so that at least a few more people know about the agriculture in Seward and Moose Pass,” said Iron Mountain FFA member Aly Guernsey. “During Nationals, it was very common to be asked “What kind of agriculture does Alaska participate in?” and many were surprised to learn the scope of agriculture in Alaska.”

Iron Mountain FFA members Tate Barhaug and Cody Bryden brought home National Proficiency Awards. This award honors FFA members who have developed skills that they can apply to future careers. Tate Barhaug was awarded a gold medal in Environmental and Natural Resources Proficiency and received his American Degree award- the highest degree in FFA. Also making his hometown proud was Cody Bryden, who won the National Proficiency award in Outdoor Recreation. Not only was Cody awarded $1,000, but he became the first person ever from Alaska to win the award. “Attending the National Convention gave the chapter a boost in spirit after not being able to attend in person last year,” said Kim Barhaug, Iron Mountain FFA Advisor. “It was great to have the younger members watch their chapter be represented and honored in front of over 68,000 FFA members from across the nation during various sessions.”
Community service is an essential part of the Iron Mountain FFA program. Recently, Iron Mountain members completed two community service projects. The first was collecting “Pennies for Pets,” a project with the Seward Sea Otters 4-H club. The funds collected were split between the Humane Society and the Food Bank to assist with pet food costs and supplies. The second project had the Iron Mountain FFA members hand-tying 18 fleece blankets that the club donated to the Seward Homeless Connection.
“The Iron Mountain chapter wants to thank everyone in the community who has supported them in making the opportunity of FFA possible,” said Kim Barhaug. The Iron Mountain FFA members have earned over $56,000 in scholarship and award money, and this fall saw the first Agricultural Education (Natural Resources) class back in high school after 40 years. Way to go, Iron Mountain members! Keep an eye out on their Facebook page to see updates as the members head to the state competition on April 19-22 in Palmer.