Shanna Mercier wants students at Badger High School to have a chance to enjoy high school as much as she did.
All of them can, she says, through the organization called FFA, once known as Future Farmers of America.
Mercier, who graduated from Badger in 2012, got so much fulfillment from FFA during her high school days that she continues to support the organization five years after graduation.
Now 23 years old, she is working to rally others in the community into an alumni chapter to support FFA at Badger. The group is open not only to former FFA members, but anyone in the community who believes in what FFA offers young people.
Mercier likes to think of it as more of a booster club than a traditional alumni group.
Anyone interested in helping can contact Mercier either through the Facebook page facebook.com/badgerffaalumni or through Badger High School.
Mercier sat down recently with a Regional News reporter to discuss her efforts.
(The following has been edited for brevity and clarity.)
Q: Can you tell me about your experiences in FFA and why it made such an impression on you?
A: I joined FFA when I was a freshman. My first year, I was the sentinel, which represents the sentinel station by the door. So there’s always someone at the door to welcome people and greet them and make them feel at home. I got to meet a lot of new people that way. I got to meet a lot of people in FFA. I got to travel a lot, too. Different life experiences. I just loved being involved in it.
Q: Is it all about farming?
A: No. All the different classes you can take at Badger — there’s botany, landscaping, animal science and aquaculture, forestry and wildlife, veterinary science, greenhouse management. FFA just centers itself around agriculture. And if you kind of look at it, without agriculture, you wouldn’t have any food, you wouldn’t have any clothes, and you wouldn’t have a place to live. It all has to do with agriculture.
Q: As you work to bring alumni together, how many FFA alumni do you figure are out there in the community?
A: To be in the alumni, you didn’t have to be in FFA when you were in high school. You didn’t have to even go to Badger. You just have to have an interest in helping out the FFA. You don’t need to be a graduate. Anyone can be an alumni. It’s kind of like a booster club. I don’t know why they don’t call it an alumni-booster club. But anyone can join the alumni and be involved.
Q: What are you hoping to accomplish by getting an alumni-booster group going?
A: We just want to help out with the FFA. To help sponsor kids go to nationals if they can’t afford it. Or help coach things. There’s like 47 different areas where you can coach. Or there’s speaking contests. We’re just kind of looking for people who are interested in helping out. And chaperoning different events, helping with fundraisers. We have some parents come in and stuff. It’s like a support system for FFA.
Q: Is there anything else special you would like to do, if you had a really big group of alumni?
A: A lot of different alumni groups do events. East Troy does a pig roast, I think, to raise money. There’s different things we can do. There’s events we can do. But then we can do fundraisers to raise money for kids who can’t go to nationals or for us to go to different conventions, because there’s a lot of different alumni conventions.
Q: Why do you feel so strongly about it that you want to stay active in it?
A: If you met me in my freshman year of high school, I was super-quiet. I didn’t really talk a lot, hated talking in front of people. And then I joined FFA, and it totally changed me. I’m fine talking in front of crowds. I like to get involved in things now. There’s been so many things that I got to do that, if I didn’t do, I probably wouldn’t have traveled out of Wisconsin ever.