Texas FFA News  
Harper FFA's Flea Market Flip    
Thursday, February 22, 2024 | Author: Laura Beth James, Texas FFA Past State Officer

Though many of us might see a piece of abandoned furniture and not think twice, the members of Harper FFA have flipped the script.

One day during class, the Harper FFA advisors, Felice and Jason Marek, overheard their students discussing the TV series Flea Market Flip, a reality show where participants buy and flip flea market items to turn a profit. 

"We instantly thought, what a great shop project idea," said J. Marek. "It would allow them to problem solve and be creative with limited resources."

The students were tasked with finding old furniture or other unique items and utilizing the skills they learned in class to transform them.

"That first year, most students decided they did not want to keep the projects, so they sold them and donated the money to the Harper Community Chest, which was low on food items during the holiday season," said J. Marek. 

The following year, a local community member was impressed by the project idea and donated over 30 pieces of antique furniture to the Harper FFA. The donor was an advocate for the Gillespie County Christian Women's Job Corp, so the students gave the proceeds from their projects to that organization. 

The spirit of service is a primary theme of the chapter effort. Community members donate what they can to the students, and then the students give back to those who can't. 

"The program reminds our students that it's good to do things to help others," said J. Marek. 

Every year since, the chapter has found a charity to donate their earnings to, such as Habitat for Humanity and Angel Tree. 

As more locals learned about the students' work, more donations of antique furniture and other assorted items started to pour in. 

"A lot of people don't see the growth in our shop program and how this has added another avenue for students to be successful and engaged," said Garrett Ballard, Harper FFA member. 

Students learn the ag mechanics skills needed to participate in the effort through their ag classes. 

"They are utilizing problem-solving and higher cognitive thinking," said J. Marek. "They are learning to make something out of nothing and develop a sense of pride for what they can do."

Harper FFA is combating wastefulness in a very hands-on way. By giving warped barrels and crumbling dressers a second chance, students are learning to see life's cast-off creations in a different light. 

"One of my favorite projects was learning how to recover a chair," said Kamrynn Baethge, Harper FFA member. "I got to break down the different components of the chair and then slowly restore it and give life to it again. I personally find recovering furniture so therapeutic."

Texas FFA and ag education strive to equip students with the skills they need to excel in their future careers and serve those around them. This mission starts at the chapter level, and it's clear that Harper FFA has not taken this mission lightly. They are raising leaders who will instill this culture into other communities, and that's something to be proud of.

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