West Virginia FFA Rural Life Contest

Every family has stories and photos from earlier generations. These keepsakes are not only special to our families, but they are also historical treasures for our entire state. To help preserve our state’s agricultural heritage, the West Virginia Future Farmers of America (FFA) Association has partnered with the Collaborative for the 21st Century Appalachia to conduct two separate agricultural history contests: essay and photography.

Students were challenged to gather family stories and photos that represent rural life in West Virginia from 20-plus years ago. Prizes were awarded for the top entries in both categories . Please visit the following pages to view the words and images submitted by high school FFA members across the state of West Virginia. Enjoy!

Photo Contest Gallery

Story Contest Collection

Special Thanks

Every initiative of this scope requires a team effort:

  • W.E.R. Byrne was a fisherman and one of West Virginia’s most famous storytellers. His yarns of Elk River and the people along its banks were published serially in West Virginia’s Wildlife Magazine and later gathered into the book, Tales of the Elk. In honor of his memory, Byrne’s great-granddaughter, Suzanne Thorniley of Charleston, WV, has generously funded the cash awards for the FFA contest winners. A long-time supporter of the Collaborative for the 21st Century Appalachia, Suzanne shares her grandfather’s passion for ensuring that the lore of bygone days not be forgotten.
  • Annie Seay, whose son Sam was in the FFA, suggested the contest as a means of tying the next generation of West Virginia’s agriculturalists into the Collaborative for the 21st Century’s mission of preserving the best of our Appalachian heritage.
  • Jason Hughes, Co-Coordinator for West Virginia Department of Education’s Agricultural Division, spread the word to teachers across the state and coordinated all the details.