Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Cheney High FFA lending a hand

They’ve written letters and sold raffle tickets, cookie dough and hand warmers.

Nine Cheney High School FFA members are working to raise money to travel to Houston to spend three days welding, mending fences and tending to abused and neglected horses at Habitat for Horses, a horse-rescue ranch.

The students will leave on Jan. 27. Their trip includes a visit to the Johnson Space Center to honor the late Lt. Col. Michael Anderson, astronaut and Cheney High School graduate.

The group will get a three-hour, personal tour of the space center, and they’ll be there during the second anniversary of the Columbia shuttle tragedy.

Sheila Clark, mother of one of the three girls heading for Houston, helped the students organize the trip.

“They’re working hard to get to Texas – so they can work hard. It’s a blessing as a parent to watch this group of kids and see their enthusiasm.” Clark said.

“It’s not just a vacation getaway, but there’s a real constructive reason for this, too,” Clark said.

Habitat for Horses is a nonprofit horse-rescue organization outside of Houston that recently partnered with a e-commerce company, The company operates, a Web site that donates a portion of its revenues to Habitat for Horses.

The horse-rescue organization discovered that the Cheney High School FFA students did welding and asked for their help. The chance to visit the Johnson Space Center and wanting to help save horses made the trip a great opportunity.

Mary Florence, a freshman, said she is looking forward to doing the “tender loving care” work with the horses.

David Dobbins, a junior, is the chapter’s president. Dobbins said the girls do welding too, and some of the boys in the group have roofing, plumbing and electrical experience.

The group has been asked, “Why not just help horses in this area?” The answer is that Habitat for Horses asked for their help.

Some of the students making the trip have helped horses in the area.

Nicole Miller has worked around abandoned horses in the Cheney area, and Florence adopted 2-month old Abigail from a horse auction in Davenport. Abigail had been marked for slaughter.

The National FFA Organization was founded in 1928 as Future Farmers of America. In 1988 the name was changed to National FFA Organization to represent the growing diversity of agriculture.

Today, almost half a million student members participate in more than 7,000 chapters throughout the country.

Nationally, 40 percent of the members are girls. At Cheney High School 50 percent are girls.

“FFA’s not just a bunch of farm boys. We’re here to help our community,” Dobbins said.

Dobbins said the Cheney community has been very generous in its support of the Houston trip.