Last December, the Pocahontas County High School FFA Chapter welcomed two special guests – Tom and Dotsy Fraker – to take a tour of the agriculture education facilities and learn more about the FFA program.
The Frakers, of Arlington, Virginia, were drawn to the FFA program after reading an article in The Pocahontas Times about PCHS alums Noah Barkley and Ben Davis receiving their FFA State Degrees. They were impressed by the story and wanted to learn more about the program.
The reason the Frakers became interested in the FFA program is because they wanted to find a way to give back to the county they love so much.
“I knew about FFA,” Tom said. “I’m not sure my wife did. There was a chapter in my high school – Magnolia High School in Wetzel County. I knew about FFA, especially the blue jackets. I was not a member, but I like the organization and because we really enjoy Pocahontas County and have developed a long-term attachment to it, we started thinking a few years ago that we’d like to give back to the county somehow and how could we do that.
“We just had that in mind and mulled it over for a couple of years,” he continued. “We saw this article, and that really got us thinking that the way to follow through on this thought that we wanted to give back somehow to this county was to support the FFA.”
After reaching out to agriculture education teacher Erwin Berry, who has since retired, the Frakers knew they selected the right organization to receive their $10,000 donation.
“We wanted to do something that acknowledges the primarily rural character of the county,” Tom said. “We wanted to do something for young people that would, hopefully, facilitate their careers here, building their lives here, raising families. We didn’t want to do something that would transform Pocahontas County. We wanted to help out in a way that was just consistent with the way the county is now.
“We hope FFA will reach out to kids on smaller farms or kids who don’t even live on farms and get them involved in FFA,” he continued. “And somehow, if we could, through our gift to the FFA, encourage that to happen, that would be good.”
The donation made by the Frakers was added to the FFA Chapter’s account with the Greenbrier Community Foundation, which will allow the organization to provide scholarships to students.
The Frakers began visiting Pocahontas County with their children for annual ski trips to Snowshoe Mountain Resort. It wasn’t long before they realized they wanted a piece of the county to call their own.
“I think,” Tom said, “we started coming here to Snowshoe in the mid-nineties with our kids and…”
“We wanted a permanent place to stay,” Dotsy interjected.
“So we built a vacation home here in 2004,” Tom said. “It’s been quite a while and we’ve come to Pocahontas County a lot. It’s not just for skiing now. We come all year round. We really enjoy the county.”
The Frakers love to experience the outdoors and were drawn to the rural beauty of the area.
“We do a lot of hiking on the trails in Monongahela National Forest,” Tom said. “We bike on the Greenbrier River Trail and walk on it with our dog. We love ramp season. We found a great place to dig ramps in the Laurel Fork Wilderness area and my job is to clean them. That’s a tough job.”
“I get to cook them,” Dotsy added.
During their latest trip to PCHS, the Frakers met with the FFA Chapter officers and discussed competitions and what drew the students to the club. They were joined by agriculture education teacher Andy Friel and Berry, who is still a large part of the club although he has retired.