Friday, December 12, 2014

Alaska welcomes new FFA coordinator

Kevin Fochs arrived in Alaska this month to become the state’s FFA coordinator, bringing with him a wealth of agricultural education knowledge. FFA is a youth development program housed within the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service.
Kevin Fochs

Growing up on a ranch in Shawmut, Montana, Fochs was involved in 4-H and FFA (formerly known as Future Farmers of America). He earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education and a master’s in secondary school administration at Montana State University.

After teaching for 32 years in Montana, he decided to take on a new life by heading north. “It’s a great challenge,” Fochs said. “I like working with kids and there is a lot we can do in Alaska to provide agricultural and natural resources education.

“It seems in Alaska agricultural education is on the back burner and I’d like to bring it forward.”

Fochs’ main focus will be building programs. “My goal is to meet with administrators to start agriculture and natural resources programs, which will create more opportunities,” he said. “And I want to improve the financial stability of FFA so there will be more opportunities for scholarships and travel for the kids.”

Currently, Alaska has about 150 students involved in FFA, with chapters in North Pole, Delta Junction, Palmer, Kodiak and Fairbanks. Most of the programs are after-school clubs, rather than academic curricula. FFA’s mission is to increase awareness of the importance of agriculture, strengthen the confidence of agriculture students, promote agricultural careers, encourage wise management of resources, build character and promote citizenship, volunteerism and leadership.

While Fochs said there are old-fashioned ideas about agriculture and natural resources education, it is valuable in today’s world. “People don’t perceive agriculture as important but I don’t agree at all,” he said.

“FFA teaches students life skills such as a work ethic, teamwork, public speaking and professionalism,” Fochs said. “It’s a good model to prepare students for careers.”

Debra Jones, Alaska’s 4-H program leader and supervisor of the FFA program, said, “Kevin brings a fresh perspective. He gets the connections with alternative agriculture and how we all rely on natural resources throughout the state. We want to help kids succeed.”

Fochs’ office is at the Matanuska Experiment Farm in Palmer. He can be reached at 907-746-9499 or

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