McKinley FFA Chapter Plans For Sustainable Impact

A look into upcoming plans for leadership and agriculture.


Entrance to covered portion of McKinley’s aquaponic area. Photo by Jade Bluestone.

Jade Bluestone, reporter

McKinley High School’s Future Farmers of America, also known as FFA, is just one of nearly 8,995 chapters with a mission to grow leaders who change the world and encourage agriculture education and community awareness. But this school year, the club hopes for change outside its general routine.

Future Farmers of America is a nationally recognized club, found in all 50 states with chapters divided by each participating school. Hawaii FFA State Coordinator and McKinley FFA Advisor Shaun Kamida said the club is more than just learning about agriculture. It’s about training people to become the next leaders and helping to guide our future with an understanding of why agriculture is important. Kamida said after the COVID pandemic, his initial goal as the State Coordinator was to help bring FFA back to doing things in person and being an active organization. 

Kamida says as a community, especially in Hawaii, it’s important to be aware of where our food comes from. “Sustainability is important because eating is essential to survive, which relies heavily on farmers. Through markets, grocery stores, and restaurants, it’s important to know where our food comes from.”

Oahu FFA recently had a successful annual leadership workshop that the McKinley chapter attended. It was hosted by Castle High School where state officers lead the workshop to inspire FFA council members to plan several upcoming events. 

FFA McKinley High School Chapter President, Cayenne Dabalos says FFA is an opportunity to educate others on agriculture and to participate in leadership, sustainable growth and healthy living. “It’s important to not rely on big chain suppliers and it’s liberating to grow things yourself,” Dabalos said. They say they want to branch out and do things a bit differently than in previous years. 

Agriculture is the practice of cultivation in farming and growth, something all FFA chapters take into consideration. In fact, McKinley FFA plans to take a new approach outside of its current general flow of things. Some plans included involving the club in activities outside of school, hiking to experience the beauty in nature, and “connecting with our Aina” said Dabalos, possibly expanding the school’s aquaponic area to include a garden and to grow leaders for next year’s positions. 

Currently, the club had been hosting aquaponic work days for its members to help care for McKinley’s aquaponic systems and plants every other Tuesday. But the highest priority now is preparing members for the district competition coming this February to compete from a wide range of selections from plant animal systems, to plant identification and research experiments.

McKinley FFA is dedicated to growing leaders and promoting healthy living. Their upcoming plans for the remainder of the school are still to be discussed and there are some important executive decisions to be made. But for now, they encourage people to join and experience the opportunities they are planning.

“I hope we can go outside our environment and see mother nature in its essence as a community,” Dabalos said.