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Source: National FFA Organization news release

Four high school FFA chapters and one middle school chapter in the U.S. were honored by National FFA Organization Thursday for creative initiatives that encourage members to grow as individuals, work as a team and serve others.

The National Chapter Award program recognizes FFA chapters that successfully completed a series of year-long activities aimed at benefiting fellow students, FFA chapter members and their overall communities. Five separate awards honoring the innovation and dedication of selected chapters were given during a general session Thursday at the 86th National FFA Convention & Expo in Louisville, Ky.

Pontiac FFA in Illinois received a Model of Excellence award. Members of Pontiac FFA focused on recruitment and retention this year. They spoke at seven junior high schools about FFA and agricultural education and answered questions about joining their school's agricultural education program.

As a result, 88 new members have signed up for agriculture classes next fall. They also reached out to elementary school and high school students with their Promoting Agriculture in Literature program, reaching 1,069 students and helping them with reading skills and agricultural literacy.

Anna FFA of Ohio received a Model of Innovation award for an FFA chapter campaign. Chapter members sought to improve awareness of FFA with local businesses and organizations while completing a service learning project.

In their animal science class, members raised broiler chickens and conducted feed trials, observed the chickens being processed and then donated more than 190 pounds of shredded chicken to the local Veteran's Day luncheon, feeding nearly 100 veterans and 500 students.

Richland 44 FFA of North Dakota received a Model of Innovation award for a community campaign. The chapter reached out to the Sanford Children's Hospital in Fargo, N.D., and offered ways to entertain patients and keep them active.

FFA members built 30 checkerboards and teamed with the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America organization, which sewed small fabric bags with drawstrings to create checkers.

Saint Amant FFA of Louisiana received a Model of Innovation award for a student-focused campaign. Chapter members promoted healthy living by offering healthy snacks at FFA events.

FFA members selected and created their own healthy snack bowls as part of a Bowl for Better Living event during which a local fitness trainer and past FFA member gave a 30-minute presentation on the importance of healthy living and taught attendees stretching exercises.

Receiving the Outstanding Middle School award this year was Signal Knob Middle FFA of Virginia. Chapter members honed their life skills though a three-day retreat at Yogi Bear's Jelly stone Park in Luray, Va.

The retreat helped members focus on self-organization, time management, communication and teamwork skills, personal goals and anti-bullying initiatives. They also saluted veterans by volunteering at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games and hosting a breakfast and Veteran's Day program for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grader students.

The National Chapter awards are sponsored by John Deere.

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 579,678 student members in grades seven through 12 who belong to one of 7,570 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

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