Cheney FFA has a new advisor, ag instructor

A new FFA advisor and Agriculture Education Program instructor is taking over in Cheney. Stacy DeVore, left, has retired from the position, and Samantha Dungan, right, has stepped into the position with USD 268 in Cheney.

By Paul Rhodes

CHENEY – The Cheney FFA chapter has a new leader at the helm this fall as founding advisor and ag instructor Stacy DeVore stepped down this past summer.
Taking over the reins as advisor for FFA and Agriculture Education Program instructor is Samantha Dungan. She comes to Cheney from Athens, Ga., where she had spent her life up until now.
Dungan has a sister in Cheney, and she and her husband loved to visit the Cheney community. After Dungan met DeVore last summer at FFA’s fundraising fireworks tent, she and her husband Jake realized an opportunity was waiting for them in Cheney.
FFA continues to actively raise funds for its greenhouse project – including selling fireworks in downtown Cheney. And this past summer, Dungan and DeVore ran the fireworks tent together as a part of the transition for the local Agriculture Education Program at Cheney High School.
The program has grown dramatically since it was restarted by DeVore in 2017. The program had ceased to operate several decades ago.
Now, Dungan is excited to take ag education and FFA on into the future. And one of the things she is most excited about is the program’s greenhouse project, which is close to its fundraising goal and will be built as soon as possible.
FFA is part of the Agriculture Education Program in the Cheney School District, which involves more than 100 students in sixth through 12th grades.
This year, the fireworks tent raised about $18,000 for the greenhouse project. Dungan said the greenhouse was an exciting draw for her as she considered the teaching position in Cheney.
The greenhouse project will benefit the Ag Education Program in the Cheney School District. So far, about $75,000 has been committed to the project through student fundraising, grants, the school district, and business donations. An additional $25,000 to $30,000 is needed for concrete and other “finishing touches.”
“A lot of kids are interested in plants and soils, and we want to promote that,” said DeVore, who has seen the local FFA chapter grow from fewer than 10 to more than 100 members in just five years.
DeVore had been teaching physical education in the Cheney School District when the opportunity came around to teach ag education. It took two years to get to a full load of ag classes, and FFA was added as well.
The Agriculture Education Program at Cheney High has three components: Ag education, FFA, and a Supervised Agricultural Experience.
“It’s a unique model with the SAE portion,” said DeVore. “It can be almost anything ag-related.”
Dungan agreed, and said the new greenhouse will provide additional opportunities for SAE endeavors for students.
“The greenhouse project will be a big draw for the ag program,” said Dungan. “It will provide a great lab experience for students in the program, and will be an opportunity for any student to explore horticulture skills.”
She also noted that the greenhouse will provide fundraising opportunities for the local FFA chapter into the future.
Dungan is a graduate of the University of Georgia in Athens, with a degree in agriculture education. As a teacher, she focuses on leadership and employability skills.
“Those skills reach over into many fields,” said Dungan. She said she wants students to leave high school with broad-based skills, and to be “informed consumers.”
DeVore is retired from USD 268 in Cheney now, but she hasn’t slowed down yet. She continues to help her husband Clint with the family farm, and will remain active as a volunteer with the FFA chapter.
“We’re trying to form an alumni support group for the ag program, and I’ll continue to help with fundraising efforts,” said DeVore.
She’s excited to see the greenhouse get built, and put to use. She always believed it could serve the community beyond education – as a business selling starter and bedding plants, and a contributor of fresh produce to the school lunch program.
And when local volunteers are needed to help build the greenhouse in the near future, you can count on DeVore to be right there.