From the coffee we drink, the place we call home, to the healthcare systems that keep us well, agriculture touches our lives every day. Agriculture education is vital to advancing practices in the field and improving sustainability. It provides opportunities for students to explore new interests and career paths.
Through Medford FFA’s Bringing the Barn to School project, students in the Medford Area Public School District are getting the chance to learn first hand about agriculture. By teaching students about agriculture in the classroom and through hands-on learning, the project provides access to engaging resources for students.
In 2016, the Medford FFA, FFA Alumni, and Medford Agriculture Department began raising funds to build a new educational agricultural facility (a barn) on school property. A parcel of land was purchased west of Medford Area Senior High where construction began in the Fall of 2017. The new barn will house a classroom, two animal stalls, and an agricultural mechanics workshop. Agriculture classes have been utilizing the previous stanchion barn, which will continue to be used after the new barn is completed.
Lisa Kopp, agriculture teacher and FFA Advisor in Medford, and her students care for chickens, sheep, pigs, rabbits, and of course, a barn cat. Students are assigned weekly chores. They help feed, clean, and maintain the facility. Hands-on labs like egg collection, washing, candling, weighing, and grading show the students some of the processes that happen for eggs to get to a store. Students experience other hands-on learning opportunities, which include feeding, cleaning the pig pen, and weighing the pigs weekly to anticipate a butchering date.
Brooke Helmert, a senior at Medford Area Senior High, has been taking advantage of learning opportunities both in and out of the barn. “I learned a lot about spreadsheets while doing the book work side of the barn. Then actually getting to go out into the barn and see the animals and interact with them and watch them grow is a very cool experience that not many kids get to have.”
The FFA Alumni has helped fundraise $109,000 so far and anticipates completion of the new barn Fall 2018.
Subscriber Submission: Written by Lisa Kopp