This Thanksgiving I am very thankful for the youth that we are blessed with in our county. I think that we often look to younger generations with a pessimistic eye and fail to highlight some truly remarkable youth. Three weeks ago, the only USDA inspected poultry plant for small farms in the state shut down unexpectedly. This left many poultry producers in quite the predicament. This is the peak time of year to have turkey flocks processed for Thanksgiving. Grace Meadow Farm in Westfield was left with little option with sixty large free range turkeys. Small farms can attain a poultry handler’s license to process their own birds, but many if not most used the facility in Marion. The state realized that this was a very difficult situation for many farmers and allowed poultry handlers to apply for an exemption to serve their neighbors by processing birds from other farms.
Last Spring, the South Stokes FFA chapter attained their poultry handlers license to process meat chickens that they raised from eggs hatched in the 4-H embryology program for second grade classes in the county. Those birds were then donated to the East Stokes Outreach Ministry. I told a couple of the students about Grace Meadow’s need and they were glad to help. Students were out of school on Thursday and seven students helped to process all those turkeys. We started around 9am and finished close to 6pm. The students worked very hard without complaint through a very grueling job. All adults present were simply amazed at how well those students worked and the positive attitudes that they kept.
These students are truly special in their willingness to serve and I look forward to seeing what they become as adults. I believe that the best part of our county is our people and our culture and I feel confident that it will be preserved in the future through our wonderful youth.