North Surry High School’s Future Farmers of America will be winding up its annual Christmas tree sale this Friday and Saturday at the school. The effort represents a win-win for those still in the market for seasonal finery and future projects for the FFA.
“This is the fourth year we’ve done this,” commented FFA adviser Aaron Tompkins. “All the proceeds from this go to fund agricultural activities for the group such as officer (training) retreats, state level competitions.” He said response has been good for the sale as it enters its third weekend of operation with about 200 Fraser fir trees available. Trees range in size from five to nine feet.
The sale will be held at the high school on Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
“Since things have went so well I spoke with the officers and we decided to price the trees at $15 each Friday and Saturday to make them available to more families with this price,” added Tompkins. “From an educational standpoint it is invaluable to the students to learn all aspects from shearing and grading the trees to marketing them at the sale.”
Holiday wreaths, baskets and roping also are available and prices range from $9 to $16. Tompkins said alumni, such as Chase Chandler who graduated three years ago from North Surry, return to help with the sale. He also praised the efforts of Brady Payne and Kinley Jones.
“It is a fundraiser, but it’s also an education experience. They (students) see the product side of things and understand the importance of customer service. The sale was supposed to start at 9 last Saturday, but the students got there at 8. There’s not that much interest in many their age to get up early Saturday morning for trees. That shows me they truly have an interest.”
Two FFA members representing the zest the group has for this project are seniors Austin Young and Kayla Swift. The process of growing, shearing, grading and selecting the trees in cooperation with local growers became the senior project of Young, who has been involved with the project for more than two years and has the scars to prove it.
Young said he wasn’t raised in a farming family and decided to give agriculture a try on a whim.
“I just thought it’d be great to try something different,” remembered Young. “It is a ton of work. The sale has given me a lot of experience in marketing which can be applied to many other projects.”
He said he is hoping to enroll in a two-year college but is not sure of a final concentration of study. Swift, who was raised on her parent’s small farm and gravitated to FFA naturally, is hoping to enroll at N.C. State, perhaps in something medically related. Both said they hope to one day at least farm as a hobby.
“He (Tompkins) said do you want to sell trees and I said yes,” said Swift as she explained how she got started with the project. “Folks have been really friendly. We are supported by a lot of families from North Surry and my mother bought a tree from us again this year. I like to give customers my opinion when picking out a tree if they ask for it.”
She said the best sellers for the sale have traditionally been the wreaths and roping and she said many like the baskets. She expects sales to pick up this weekend because many will realize they need another wreath. Both teens said repeat business means a lot to them in addition to the “drive-by” sales.
Tompkins said students not only enjoy the interaction with returning customers, they like seeing their trees decorated on Facebook.
“When the kids see one of their trees fully decorated on a customer’s Facebook page, it is a thrill for them,” said Tompkins.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952