For FFA Program Coordinator Chris Bacchus, his team’s contribution to the agriculture industry is the human element; working to create opportunities for the future leaders of the state’s largest industry.
Bacchus grew up on a poultry and cattle operation in Lamar, Arkansas near Clarksville. He started his agricultural endeavors by showing cattle as a young man in 4-H. By the time Bacchus was in college, thanks to the experience he gained through educational ag programs and his local FFA program, he had 75 ewes for market lambs and production sales, along with approximately 25 head of cattle.
Chris earned an agri-business degree from Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, before pursuing a masters in agricultural economics. While earning his graduate degree, Bacchus was offered a long-term substitute opportunity in the Lamar school district teaching agriculture, where he discovered his love for teaching. He went on to earn his teaching license and continued teaching at his alma mater.
Following four-and-a-half years at Lamar High School, Bacchus took a position with the Arkansas Department of Career Education as the Eastern District Coordinator for Agriculture Education. Chris had success in that role, but the classroom came calling again. He spent a little more time teaching before he found his way back to the state, serving students across Arkansas. That’s when Chris began his current role with the Arkansas Department of Career Education as the FFA Program Coordinator in 2013.
As the program coordinator, Bacchus works with school districts, teachers and industry professionals to determine what programs are needed based on the labor and industry needs of their area. Chris’ team also works to secure Perkins funding, which brings federal funds back to states to implement and improve vocational and technical training courses. His group also brings in startup funding for programs and equipment needed by FFA students in Arkansas.
During the spring, Bacchus and his team work on career development events that simulate the skills needed for various agriculture careers. Over the summer, they offer leadership camps and conferences for different leadership opportunities.
The most important advice Bacchus gives students: “Get involved.”
Bacchus encourages students to do things outside of their comfort zones, whether they are in student organizations or traveling with an FFA chapter.
“I can’t emphasize the importance of internships for those students to be engaged and just to get a feel for the everyday job. To get experience and see if that’s what they really want to do,” Bacchus said.
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