Designing the FFA corn maze
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Designing the FFA corn maze
Posted on 09/08/2016
Tammy Brandvold, second-year Lynden High School agriculture teacher, says she may have set her sights a touch high when it comes to this year’s FFA corn maze. “It is quite intricate,” she says of the design. “Some of it is a guessing game.”

Each year the FFA Booster Club plans and operates the corn maze, located off Hannegan Road south of downtown, throughout the month of September. But every year requires a new set of plans and a fresh effort.

Brandvold, who graduated from Lynden as a student and now teaches there, took over leading the corn maze effort from John Grubbs for the first time this year, starting the planning in May. First she picked a design, this year the FFA emblem. “Last year the design was a little rough and nobody knew the design, so one of the goals was to make it something that showed the community that the students were working really hard,” she says.

With the design in hand, Brandvold and a small set of FFA student volunteers found the best picture they could—this year’s visual was based off a corn maze from another part of the country. The students then transferred that into the computer-aided design (CAD) program Rhino and sent the file to Pacific Surveying and Engineering of Bellingham. From there, Pacific surveyed the property, placing numbered stakes in the ground, a donation the company has given to the FFA for over a decade. Those stakes correspond with a numbered map used in mowing out the actual pattern.

“We go out with a couple of students and use a tractor to connect the dots,” Brandvold says. Not every point of the design receives a stake, so sometimes the volunteer crew has to make a best guess to build its pattern. And with this year’s intricate design of the emblem, Bandvold says they found themselves free handing—with a tractor, of course—many of the letters that spell out “agricultural education.” The crew cuts the field multiple times to ensure a smooth path.

“I would say that this year the students we had helping really stepped up to the plate and wanted to make this an excellent maze,” Brandvold says. “The kids that help need to be able to put out a lot of work.”

Once the pre-maze works wraps, that’s when more volunteers come into the mix, helping staff the maze for every weekend in September. While Lynden FFA members make up the bulk of the volunteers, Brandvold says community members and Lynden Christian FFA members also come out to help with the booster club effort.

The fundraiser—only the spring plant sale is a larger fundraiser—offers a chance for a range of students to get involved. “Both the students who helped prepare it and work at it, I hope they are gaining a level of ownership of the whole project,” she says. “It is also good because they are all volunteering their time and hours to help our chapter. It is giving them a sense of ownership, but also leadership to take that step to be more active in the chapter.”

The corn maze is open in September on Friday from 6 to 10 p.m., Saturday from 2 to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. The maze becomes a flashlight maze after dark. Prices are $6 for those in seventh grade or older, $4 for those in kindergarten through sixth grade and free for preschool age or younger. The family rate for two adults and three kids is $18.

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