- Associated Press - Monday, July 31, 2017

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) - It may be summer break, but it hasn’t kept Valley View senior Kaylee Southern from school.

The 17-year-old girl joined the 110- to 130-member Future Farmers of America student organization as a way to meet others after she moved into the Valley View School District three years ago. She now helps sell produce at the FFA produce stand, which helps fund projects and trips during the school year.

“I do it because it is a job,” said Southern, who earns minimum wage. “I am getting paid for it. And to help my agri teacher. He needs volunteers. It is fun being outside, getting to talk to people and helping out with (fellow FFA member and friend Emilee Stricklin).”

Stricklin, also 17, agreed. While it is not her first job, like it is for Southern, Stricklin said she does enjoy the work, and it is one of her first activities as a new member of FFA.

The Jonesboro Sun (https://bit.ly/2uyye4i ) reports that the Valley View FFA Produce Stand opened Wednesday on Southwest Drive near the Darr Hill traffic light. The teens are currently selling tomatoes, okra, squash, corn, watermelons and cantaloupes.

It is the club’s second year to have the produce stand. It will be open every weekday until school starts. Agriculture teacher Anthony Sanders said the produce stand is open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., although it might close early some days due to weather or other concerns.

“It’s been pretty good,” Sanders said of the community’s support. “They’ve been asking us all summer when we are going to open, and they’ve been coming. It’s the second day, and it’s been a pretty good day.”

Five high school FFA members are being paid to work the stand this year. The students rotate working the produce stand as well as help plant, maintain and pick the gardens on 7 acres next to Valley View High School. The landowner has provided the plot for student use.

“It gives them something to do and gives us a break to do everything else we need to do,” Sanders said. “… It is a good project for us.”

While it is primarily a fundraiser for FFA, he said it does allow the students to learn about commerce, gardening, communication skills and life skills such as handling money.

Southern wants to work in the medical field, possibly as a dentist. She said FFA allows her to learn ag-business, which is interesting, and more about animals.

“FFA, for me, is another activity to do during school and to get to know other people,” she said.

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Information from: The Jonesboro Sun, https://www.jonesborosun.com

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