Mary C. Cromley is the FFA chapter president at Southeast Bulloch High School and the FFA Area Four vice president, as well. During the summer, she traveled with SEB agricultural science teacher and FFA adviser Yvette Smith to Washington, D.C., for the National FFA Leadership Conference.
Cromley was one of 52Georgia FFA members and advisers who attended the conference, a five-day event that trains more than 400 FFA members to make a positive impact in their school, community, state and country.
Cromley was awarded the Cindy Green Scholarship, honoring the Central Region's long-time agricultural education director, to attend the conference.
FFA members from around the country share ideas for community service projects that are part of the FFA organization.
“We got together with other FFA'ers from all over the country, and brainstormed on how to have the best community service projects we'd ever had,” Cromley said. “People came up with ideas that I could have never dreamed up. It was amazing.”
Cromley and Smith returned to SEB with their own idea: Project MADE – “Making A Difference Everyday.” Cromley said the idea is to organize a grass-roots effort to set up a schedule of small projects in the community.
Smith said that, after some reflection, she believes Bulloch County and Statesboro would benefit from Project MADE if everybody comes together to make it work.
“The “Project MADE” plan is two-fold,” she said. “First of all, people in the community can suggest projects that are within the scope of the local chapter's ability, and the FFA advisers can select those that they feel are the most deserving.
“Secondly, skilled tradesmen in the community can volunteer to help the chapter undertake these projects by offering their guidance and support. People with woodworking, electrical, plumbing, and even landscaping experience can show the students how to do the jobs.”
While in Washington, Cromley and Smith participated on the last day of the conference with fellow FFA members to undertake specific service project within the D.C. community. Cromley's group helped clean up an inner-city park, picking up trash, sweeping and doing minor grounds-keeping work.
Smith and her group of FFA advisers were taken to an inner-city school where almost the entire janitorial staff had been let go at the end of the school year. Their job was to clean up the cafeteria and kitchen area, which she called, “a nightmare.”
Smith said returning to SEB, and seeing the clean hallways and spotless kitchen and cafeteria areas, after her experience in Washington, gave her a new appreciation of what the custodial and lunch staff go through in order to keep things ship-shape.