FFA: Discovering a new path

Iola High School senior Jaydon Morrison accidentally was enrolled in an agri-science class as a freshman. He stayed and discovered a passion for FFA.


Local News

February 23, 2024 - 3:58 PM

Jaydon Morrison, Iola High School FFA Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

Call it a “happy accident.”

Jaydon Morrison discovered FFA thanks to a scheduling error. He unintentionally found himself taking an agri-science class when he first entered Iola High School as a freshman. He sat in the classroom, intending to switch to a different class, then discovered how much fun it was and decided to stay.

Now, as a senior and the chapter’s vice president, he’s grateful for the unexpected turn of events. It might even lead him to become an agriculture or animal science teacher.

Morrison isn’t the stereotypical FFA kid. He didn’t grow up on a farm. He wasn’t in 4-H. True, his grandparents had a farm and his parents kept a few chickens as pets, but that’s about the extent of his rural background.

But FFA isn’t just for farmers. Morrison spoke to eighth grade students at Iola Middle School earlier this week, hoping to recruit the next wave of future FFA leaders. 

“A lot of them don’t know about the opportunities FFA provides,” he said. “It’s not something you have to grow up in to be successful. It’s very diverse.”

SINCE HIS family had chickens, it made sense for Morrison to choose poultry for his Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) program.

As a freshman, he took over the care of his family’s chickens. He also bought 40 chicks to start his own business, JM Poultry, and sell eggs. 

“For people who don’t have pasture, chickens don’t take much space and they’re not high maintenance to take care of,” he said. 

He quickly ran into his first challenge in expanding and upgrading the chicken coop. He needed to keep the younger chicks separated from the older ones to allow them to grow to their full potential in a less stressful environment.

Then, he had to prepare for winter.

“These cold winters have been a challenge but I winterize the pen with some foam blocks and then make sure their doors are secure at night, get some heat lamps up and some tank heaters,” he said. “All of that is just to make sure they stay safe. Their well-being is my responsibility.”

He doesn’t have someone to take over the business after he graduates and starts college. He plans to attend college on a track scholarship and is considering where to go; Neosho County Community College is high on his list. Then, he hopes to transfer to Emporia State University and become a teacher, likely something related to science and agriculture.

Morrison didn’t buy new chicks last spring, knowing it was time to start winding things down. Hens typically live between three to seven years, so his parents will care for the chickens into their “retirement.”

“We’ll let them grow old and enjoy a happy, full life,” Morrison said.