By Erin Smith
A groundbreaking ceremony and check presentation was held on Wednesday afternoon at the Future Farmers of America (FFA) Camp at White Lake, for the construction of a new women’s dormitory and bath house.
The new women’s dormitory will be able to house up to 70 women. FFA has grown, and more women are now attending FFA camps and events held at the FFA Center at White Lake. FFA is also planning to construct a new men’s bath house as well.
Cynthia Jolly, President of the State Employees Credit Union, presented a check for a grant in the amount of $400,000 for the dormitory.
“We look forward to serving our youth,” said Jolly.
She noted that FFA is a wonderful leadership opportunity for both men and women.
Chuck Benson who is with the BASF Corporation also spoke. His company donated $200,000 towards the construction costs.
“The reason we support FFA is very personal,” said Benson. He explained that in the building where he is employed, there are several former FFA members from Iowa and Illinois.
“The reason I am here is because of FFA and the catalytic experience I had at camp,” said Benson.
“We celebrate you for being here,” said Benson to all of the FFA campers gathered.
North Carolina State University’s Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Richard Linton, also spoke. He thanked all of those who have made donations towards the project. They include State Employees Credit Union, BASF Corporation, Farm Credit, Lou Stanley, Sampson County Farm Bureau and Alamance County Farm Bureau.
Linton noted that the first FFA Camp was held on June 20, 1928 with 110 rural high schools represented. He said, that year the campers heard from several keynote speakers and FFA State leaders.
Linton explained the camp was hosting an FFA Leadership conference this week, and the participants are meeting with and learning from key professional role models in the agriculture industry.
Gerald Barlowe, who is the State Agriculture Education Leader with FFA, welcomed everyone and shared his personal experience at FFA Camp. Barlowe said he first came to camp in 1975, and at that time, there were no ladies at the camp.
“One of the great things about FFA Camp is it gives you the opportunity to meet others and to get to know your teacher better,” said Barlowe. “FFA made a difference in my life.”
He explained the original FFA Camp was across the highway from the present day location, and noted that the present location of the camp was originally swamp land.
Barlowe also spoke about two other camps that were once owned by the FFA in addition to the White Lake location. He said there was once a camp in Bonnettsville, but it was sold in 1978 following a fire and flooding. There was also a camp located in Swansboro, which was built in 1953 but it was eventually closed in 2000 due to poor participation.
Barlowe said the FFA Camp at White Lake is well utilized, and has seen some changes over the years. He said air conditioning has been installed in the current women’s dormitory. In 1992, FFA built an aluminum building at the camp, in 1994 the lodge was constructed, and in 1998 a new dining hall and recreation shelter were constructed. Currently, FFA plans to construct a new women’s dormitory and bath house beginning in October.