FFA gives back with hog roast

WATERFORD – Hundreds of community members had the chance to “pig out” Thursday as the Waterford FFA hosted its annual hog roast.

“This is the way our chapter gives back to the community and shows our appreciation for all their support during the year,” said Blake Campbell, FFA president.

Community members who attended enjoyed lunch that included mashed potatoes, baked beans, rolls, sauerkraut, drinks, desserts and two types of pulled pork.

The community provides the FFA chapter with a budget between $60,000 and $70,000 annually through donations and fundraisers.

The FFA’s goals are to get students involved with activities that will help them excel in the classroom and to promote serving the community, according to FFA adviser Matt Hartline.

“The funds we receive from the community allow us to participate in career development opportunities that require travel expenses,” said Hartline. “Recently our kids participated and won the state competition for parliamentary procedure. The trip cost us at least $4,000.”

Hartline noted that without the support of the community, the organization wouldn’t be able to afford travel expenses for these types of events.

The annual roast is a fun way for FFA members to promote serving the community and give a proper thanks for all the help they receive during the year.

The hog roast has been held for more than 30 years and it draws about 600 people each year, according to Hartline.

“This is a tradition that we need to keep alive,” he said. “The kids all have a sense of gratitude toward the community and the support they show us and this event is a great way for them to express that gratitude.”

A lot of effort goes into the roast but the rewards make it worth it, said sophomore Megan Whalin, vice president of the FFA chapter.

“My favorite thing about the event is seeing all of the smiling faces that we are serving in the community,” she said. “It’s hard work, but the experience you get working together to provide such a large meal for the community is a wonderful feeling.”

The 20 members of FFA who worked to prepare the feast started Wednesday afternoon and didn’t stop until a few hours before the lunch.

“We had four hogs that we started cooking about 4 p.m. yesterday and we worked all through the night,” said Campbell. “We went home about 5:45 a.m., so I only got about an hour of sleep.”

Campbell admits that toward the end of the night, students begin to get a little agitated.

“Around 3 a.m. we all were a little grumpy, but the lack of sleep is worth it in the end,” he said.

Among those in attendance Thursday afternoon were Greg Greene and his sons Greg and Matt. Greene owns a farm a few miles outside Waterford and said he has supported the FFA since the mid-’80s.

“I come to the event every year I can. I think it’s an extremely valuable organization for the kids to have,” Greene said. “Both of my sons graduated from Waterford and one of them was a former FFA member.”

Greene’s son Greg is a 1997 Waterford graduate and mentioned the fond memories he has of helping with the hog roast.

“It’s fun for the kids. When I was in school we looked forward to it each year,” he said. “Now the hog roast is a way for me to stay connected with the organization. Someday the kids working this event will feel the same way about it.”