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One of the goals the Bangor School Board had in hiring a full-time ag science instructor for the 2013-14 school year was to reinvigorate the school’s FFA program. The first steps toward that goal were taken last week as FFA students participated in a leadership conference in Tomah on Wednesday and then Thursday put together packages for the WAFER food pantry in La Crosse — food destined for families in the Bangor area.

A total of eight students — five middle schoolers and three high schoolers — traveled to Tomah for the leadership conference with other FFA students from Coulee Region schools.

“They absolutely loved it,” said Rick Bierbrauer, Bangor’s ag science instructor and FFA adviser. “One of the goals is to get them excited, and the whole bus ride home they were talking about things they want to do this year.”

Those activities included things like livestock competitions, career development events and electing officers. The eight students who made the Tomah included Kiana Moore-Petersen, Jordyn Schurhammer, Olivia West, Josie Hansen, Thor Anderson, Amanda Clements, Austin Larson and Kelly Kerrigan. Clements, Larson and Kerrigan are high school students — the other five are still in middle school.

Clements, who is the Bangor FFA chapter president, was the only student who went to Tomah who also participated in packaging WAFER meals on Thursday. She was joined by fellow high schoolers Austin Anderson, Morgan Horstman, Nicole Mikshowsky and Stephanie Clements.

“They all really enjoyed being there and helping out,” Bierbrauer said.

Susan Clements, Amanda’s mother, is a supervisor at WAFER and helped organize the visit.

“It’s kind of set up so that the kids know they are doing this for others in the community,” Bierbrauer said. “We thought it would have more of an impact that way.”

The students helped fill boxes with canned fruits and vegetables and packaged food items including cereal, noodles and pasta. Bierbrauer emphasized that while the students know the meals are destined for Bangor families, the boxes are only labeled by number so they don’t know who they are helping.

“We plan on doing this once a month,” Bierbrauer said. “It’s a great opportunity for kids to get community service hours for graduation.”

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