Brightly-colored poinsettias fill the greenhouse. Trees cover the lawn. Holiday music brings the sounds of joyful and industrious elves tying and decorating wreaths, bows, bows, and more bows, and of course the cheese, milk, and eggnog! Welcome to a shopping experience at the Housatonic Valley Regional High School Agricultural Education Center.
Connect with 70 years of Housatonic students
This holiday experience connects the public to seventy years of students and their long-standing holiday sales enterprise, one established by a program that has been well-rooted since 1939. Presently, four generations of shoppers patronize the Housatonic Valley FFA Holiday store and are treated to a personal experience of working with students to select just the right tree species, height, and form to be a centerpiece of their holiday.
As shoppers select the right tree, busy elves are decorating, harmonizing to holiday favorites, and preparing local and northern New England wreaths with their own hand-tied bows and natural decorations, all the while your tree is being freshly-cut and securely tied on to your vehicle to make the journey home.
A variety of roping, boxwood, centerpieces, kissing balls, and Holiday (cemetery) boxes can also be purchased. You may even score some locally harvested winterberry or holly.
Housatonic greenhouse-grown poinsettias offer traditional and novelty colors and await your selection in the warm greenhouse and a trip to the Hudson Valley Fresh and Cabot cooler to support your local farmers is a nice way to round off the purchase with eggnog, milk, and cheese.
Who you support when
While you are shopping, you are also supporting students as they achieve National Agricultural, Food and Natural Resource Educational Standards (AFNR), Common Core Standards, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) infused education, 21st Century Skills, and a Portrait of Graduate qualities that Housatonic Valley High School aspires for all its graduates. This real-life and hands-on experience allows students to participate in the various roles of business operation, which include production, sales, marketing, service, plant identification, Christmas tree-grading, wreath decoration, wreath creation, chainsaw safety and use; and a healthy dose of safety and career ready practices.
Serious personal service
Shoppers are greeted with personal service and students are eager to reach out and share their knowledge, and in turn feel the appreciation that so many would come and support their education and opportunities. Opportunities that may be realized by this holiday financial support include competing in a National Career Development Event in Public Speaking, Parliamentary Procedure or in as many as thirty-five specific competitions that range from environmental to engineering, plant, animal, and food sciences.
These same students may compete against the Canadian Provinces, or perhaps China. Students have the opportunity to exchange with various states during the summer, attend the life-changing Washington Leadership Conferences or receive financial support to start a business or attend post-secondary education, which a high percent of our students advance towards.
The reach and implications are greater than what you can imagine
The give-back is tremendous and the community has a significant role in supporting the Agricultural Education Department. These hard-working students of the National FFA are part of the largest inter-curricular youth leadership program in the United States (totaling over 760,000 students), and one of only twenty such programs in the state of Connecticut.
These students are motivated to participate in life and can be found quite active in their community; this recent season alone FFA members have helped to distribute over 2,400 boxes of food to the public, and even in the face of the pandemic continue to meet regularly to see how they can make a difference in their community.
A portion of the community support to the Housatonic Valley FFA Holiday store program will be donated to the four local food banks and the rest of the profit earned will be that much less that taxpayers need to contribute to the local school budget because students will use this funding to support extraordinary activities that support premier leadership, personal growth, and career success.
Your support at the holiday store reaches back through nearly four generations of students and their families – and it all began with a little shack on Route 7.
It is the most wonderful time of the year, and that is because of you and your support of this Region 1 tradition. Everyone at the holiday store looks forward to your experiencing the colors of the holiday, the blue and gold of our FFA students. Thank you for your support, and have a happy and healthy Holiday season! •
Housatonic Valley FFA Holiday Store. Located at Housatonic Valley Regional High School Agricultural Science and Technology Department’s greenhouse. Dates: Open from November 28- December 23, from 10:00am-4:30pm.
Or visit the online store at housatonic-valley-ffa.square.site. The holiday stores products include trees, wreaths, poinsettias, arrangements, and small selection of items from local businesses.
Any student that serves you will be following the CDC safety protocols to protect you and your loved ones while you shop. Masks must be worn while on campus, hand sanitizer will be provided, appropriate social distancing, one way traffic, and no more than five customers in the greenhouse at one time.
By Sara Jack, Audra Leach, and David Moran