By Rebecca Jones

The Laurel High School FFA – Future Farmers of America – held a plant sale at the greenhouse near the back of the high school on Saturday, April 1 and are planning another sale Saturday, April 15 to help fund their endeavors. And at least two members of the club are gaining from what they are learning and taking it to new levels. 

Advisor Matt Wood is in his fourth year of advising the young people at the FFA, and he has expressed his pleasure at what his youth are doing. One of his students – Joey Nowotny, 17 – became the first state leader of the FFA from Laurel since 1986. Some of Nowotny’s duties will include traveling the entire state to promote FFA, participating in the Delaware State Fair, and having the honor of going to the White House, which the young man did on Sunday, April 2. He got to meet First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden as part of the initiative to honor leaders to cap off March’s National FFA Month.

FFA advisor Matt Wood is shown with FFA Delaware State Leader Joey Nowotny and FFA member Arely Arriaga-Gonzalez at the first Laurel FFA plant sale. Photo by Rebecca Jones

Nowotny began the process in October to be part of Delaware’s state leadership, and got elected in March. He had to undergo a week-long interactive process, which included making speeches, participating in one-on-one interviews, as well as group interviews. He also had to write essays, as well as create videos to exhibit his speech making skills. 

He is a huge advocate for agriculture and plans to go into Agri-business in the future. His family moved to Laurel 10 years ago from New York. “Starting out, I wasn’t born on a farm. I joined in sixth grade, and it changed my life,” Nowotny said.

Another student reaching high through FFA is Arely Arriaga-Gonzalez. She wants to concentrate mostly on plant science, as well as environmental and sustainability. She is in the top 10 of her graduating class. Not only has she been accepted at a lot of Delaware’s colleges, but she’s also been accepted to Cornell, Ohio State, University of Michigan, University of Massachusetts, Ithaca and Salisbury. 

“A good portion of our seniors have been accepted into college to study agriculture,”Wood – who is working on his PhD – said. 

“We’re an accomplished bunch,” Nowotny added.

The plant sale will continue on April 15 from 8 a.m. until noon. The students started all of the vegetables from seed; the herbs and flowers from they raised from little pods. Up for sale are annuals, vegetables, herbs, geraniums, succulents and hanging baskets. Prices range from $2 to $15. 

All money raised goes straight into the FFA program, which helps fund their forays into state and nationwide competitions, as well as field trips. To pay for the plants, please take a check or cash.