Jordan FFA Gets Creative



(Billings, MT) – “Beef, sheep, wheat, bones and the Match Bronc Ride.” These are the things which Jordan, Montana is known for according to Ag Teacher and FFA Advisor, Bruce Wright. Mr. Wright escorted his team of eleven FFA members to the State FFA convention in Billings, MT last week. The team competed in Ag Mechanics, Farm Business Management, and Livestock Judging events.


Each year at the State FFA Convention, each chapter is encouraged to showcase their projects and experiences in the Hall of Chapters exhibit. Each chapter is asked to incorporate the State FFA theme as well as elements of a chapter’s community and agricultural involvement. Chapters typically include photos of their SAE’s (supervised agricultural experiences), volunteer projects, and events in which their students have been involved over the past year. 


This year, the state theme was “Invest in Success”. If you walked around the hall of chapters exhibit last week, you may have noticed some of the interesting wood-working and shop projects displayed or the Gardiner FFA stall which included an enlarged copy of their photo representing diversity. Now, if you were paying attention (and looking up), the Jordan FFA booth may have caught your eye. Sitting atop the display was a welded cowboy riding a bucking triceratops.



While the average person may not associate dinosaurs and cowboys, both items are deeply embedded into the fabric of this small community in Eastern Montana. You see the town arose around trade between the sheep and cattle men who had settled there in the late nineteenth century. Shortly thereafter in 1902, the first T-Rex skeleton was discovered in what is now known as the Hell Creek Formation. 


Since the turn of the 19th century, both agricultural life and fossil discoveries have continued to grow. The entire population of Jordan (386 as of 2014), is either working directly in farming or ranching or subsists upon the revenue of this industry. The town annually hosts the Jordan Match Bronc Ride in the summer and brings in cowboys from all over the country to compete in this event. As for paleontological discoveries, Scientists and Ranchers have uncovered a plethora of fossils including over 50 Triceratops skeletons and the largest and most complete Triceratops skeleton known to man (now housed in the Science Museum of Minnesota). 


Integrating these foundations of their community, FFA Chapter President Robert Bliss and members Trevor Clark and Ross Ryam utilized their welding skills to execute the cowboy/dinosaur sculpture showcased at State FFA. They also handmade horseshoes to frame the bottom of the sculpture and then to personalize the booth, members used their own branding irons to make a collage of chapter brands. Looking closer at the photographs displayed at the Jordan stall, it is apparent that their passion for community and learning goes far beyond a catchy exhibit at a trade show.


Mr. Wright and the students proudly showcase photos of a ticket-taking table they made for the Jordan High School Gym. Now, one of the most coveted features in Class-C gymnasiums, the table includes a concrete countertop with a metal frame and a heavy, industrial look. The Chapter has also embarked on projects for community members such as a 10’ x16’ calving cabin they made recently for Fred Murnion which by the way is fully wired and heated – a plush setting for any weary, night calved.

Jordan FFA, not unlike all chapters represented at the state convention, showcased to the state what they are proud of: Their community and the fruits of their labor. Yet, between serving others and learning new trades, these students are also thinking critically about their future. Mr. Wright commented, “The demographics of our community are changing. Not every student is able to go back to the ranch”. High School Senior Robert Bliss spoke of his goal to join a diesel technology program after graduation. Other students expressed a longing desire to be one of those lucky few who get to go back and ranch with their families. Their time in FFA learning new skills and working together on projects such as the cowboy-riding-dinosaur sculpture equip each of these aspirants to go further and achieve more on his/her own path. 


For those of us who have not donned the blue corduroy in a while, what a hopeful reminder these students offer on the greatness that is possible just by simply knowing who we are and by working together for the good of the whole. 

By Courtney Brown, Northern Ag Network

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