HOMEDALE, Idaho — About 40 members of this small farming community in southwestern Idaho showed up at Homedale High School May 13 to thank a departing teacher for building the school’s FFA program.
A group of parents fought for and got permission to create an FFA program at Homedale High School 10 years ago.
But it was FFA advisor Lori Idsinga who actually built a high-quality program that is now one of the best in the state, said Sue Williams, chairman of the school’s ag advisory program.
After getting permission from the school district to add a vocational-agricultural program a decade ago, the key was finding a good teacher to make sure the program would continue, Williams said.
Idsinga, who was raised on her family’s farm and ranch in eastern Idaho and has a degree in agricultural education from University of Idaho, was the perfect hire, she added.
“In just a 10-year period, she’s built the program to where it’s now one of the best in the state,” Williams said.
Idsinga is pregnant with her second child and is leaving the job to raise her young family.
The small community of Homedale is surrounded by ranches and farms that produce onions, mint, hops, sugar beets, potatoes and many other crops.
It’s hard to believe the local high school didn’t have an FFA program for decades, said Rep. Gayle Batt, a Republican lawmaker from nearby Wilder who helped organize the going away party.
Batt, a former farmer, said Idsinga has done wonders for the community, turning out kids every year who have the skills needed to provide Idaho agriculture its future workforce.
About 20 percent of the high school’s annual enrollment of 300-350 students are FFA members and 40 percent take vocational-agricultural classes.
“The program has been incredible for this community,” Batt said. “It’s been amazing to watch what she’s done with these kids. It’s just story after story after story.”
Batt said Idsinga has been particularly adept at reaching kids without direct farming backgrounds and introducing them to agriculture.
“I’m really proud of what she’s done,” said Owyhee County Farm Bureau President John Richard, a rancher. “She’s been a valuable asset to agriculture. She’s done wonders here.”
Idsinga said she initially planned to get the program running and leave after one year.
“I stayed and then it was, ‘OK, if I’m going to be here, I want it to be my dream program,’” she said.
Homedale High School now regularly sends FFA teams to nationals and its range team won nationals in 2006. The school’s FFA program had its first state officer last year.
While community members turned out to thank her, Idsinga in turn said they were vital in helping her build the program.
“The community support is second to none,” she said. “They have just … come through on anything we’ve asked for. You can’t ask for a better community.”