GRC ag program awarded $10,000 by Kentucky FFA Foundation 

SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The agriculture program at George Rogers Clark High School wants to give students more hands-on experience with animals, and the Kentucky FFA Foundation has awarded the staff a $10,000 grant to help construct a facility where they can do that.

With help from the grant, the agriculture program will build a barn to house a rotation of animals, including cattle, sheep, hogs and poultry. The idea is that by rotating through one species each year, a student who takes four years of agriculture classes will have the opportunity to raise four different types of animals.

“Looking at our student dynamic, we have seen a shift over the past several years,” said Terra Pigg, one of the agriculture teachers at GRC. “Although we still have kids who come from farms, most do not. I know they may never go into agriculture as a career, but they’ll all be consumers. I think it’s really important that they get to see firsthand how their food is raised.”

Construction is already underway on the barn, which will include solar panels to generate electricity for its own needs. Pigg is already counting the positive ways the new facility will influence her students.

“Students will learn hard work and dedication. They’ll learn that you can’t just leave these animals and expect them to be OK. We want to eventually set it up so students have responsibility to feed and water on weekends. They’ll also learn financial skills, like how to keep records. No matter what you do in life, you’re going to keep records to make sure it’s successful.”

GRC Principal David Bolen is a big fan of the agriculture program at his school.

“I think the program broadens kids’ outlooks,” he said. “It helps them understand the role farmers play in their lives. Agriculture is as high-tech as a person opts for it to be. They (the ag teachers) do a great job — they reach all levels of students. I think that’s what strikes me the most.”

Sheldon McKinney, executive director of the Kentucky FFA Foundation, said the Agriculture Center at GRC is exactly the kind of program the foundation looks to fund.

“When we give funds to an ag ed program, it doesn’t just impact a handful of students,” she said. “Hundreds of students a day pass through agricultural education classrooms and every year, you get new students, so its impact is tremendous.

“We know that donors love making an impact locally, so initiatives funded through our gala are driven down to the local level and that includes ag innovation grants. We ask ourselves, “What project can we fund that will change the scope of what the program can offer for generations?”

The Kentucky FFA Foundation cultivates partnerships which support the FFA vision to grow leaders, build communities, and strengthen agriculture. Kentucky FFA Foundation initiatives impact more than 14,000 FFA members in 158 FFA chapters across Kentucky.