Friday, January 25, 2013

FFA volunteer keeps chapter strong

In the past year, longtime Spring Branch FFA volunteer Joe Yarbrough has received both state and national recognition for helping the district’s FFA program remain supported and financed properly.

Last summer, he was awarded the Honorary Lone Star Degree at the state FFA convention. His volunteer efforts in Spring Branch FFA were honored again last October when he received the Honorary American FFA Degree at the national FFA meeting in Indianapolis.

“Joe Yarbrough has been an active, involved community member in the Spring Branch FFA chapter for more than two decades, helping the Agricultural Science students and program in many ways,” Guthrie Center Principal Joe Kolenda says.

At 80, Joe can look back decades and recall the day that two FFA students solicited him for a small program donation. They walked away elated with $400 to support two student teams for that year’s charity FFA golf tournament.

The turning point for involvement by Joe, a successful local businessman, was 1994. Back then, he wasn’t sure that Spring Branch ISD should support a local FFA program. By year’s end, he had helped raise $10,000 to construct a new pig barn. He then raised $8,000 from 50 local donors for the Agricultural Science program.

Today, the Guthrie Center-directed program has about 70 FFA students, more than 100 students enrolled in classes, two teachers, and an updated center with student classrooms and labs.

For Joe, it’s a long way from the hard-scrabble Georgia farm where he was raised. He began an air-conditioning business here after earning an associate’s degree at the University of Houston. He ran that successful firm for 26 years.

“I grew up on a farm. We were poor. I stayed out of school to work and didn’t have really good schooling or education. I did well for myself, but I’ve always wondered what I could have done with more,” he says, looking back.

“I know that through FFA I have kept some students in school, rather than dropping out. It does make a difference for students who might have low self-esteem, or never to have belonged, to be in this kind of program. They really do change when you give students responsibility,” Joe adds.

Over the years, Joe has donated tens of thousands of dollars to the local FFA program, and been a successful program advocate. He donates regularly to the FFA chapter for student scholarships and facility improvements.

“During a typical week, Joe will come by the farm to help students with their projects, repair animal pens when needed, check on the operation of farm equipment like tractors, and more. During growing season, Joe is the first one there to till and make ready the 5,500 square-feet vegetable garden, which students plant and tend,” Kolenda adds.

A Spring Branch resident for 44 years, Joe has been married to Loveern Yarbrough for 50 years. They have one adult daughter and two grand-daughters.

1 comment :

  1. Thank you Mr. Yarbrough for everything you've done! The SBFFA is the great chapter it is because of your dedication and that of those like you. -Jennifer Kelley Weaver, Stratford & SBFFA Alumni Class of '03


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