Kentucky FFA Foundation Awards Nearly $50,000 in Grants for Kentucky Schools to Grow their Agriculture Programs
The Kentucky FFA Foundation is putting its supporters’ donations to work by awarding fifteen grants totaling nearly $50,000 to high school and middle school agriculture programs across the state.
The Foundation recently announced this year’s recipients of their Ag Achiever and Innovation in Agricultural Education grants.
Two programs were selected to receive Innovation in Agricultural Education grants. These are $10,000 grants intended to allow an agriculture teacher to make a significant investment in technology, infrastructure, or instructional materials that will change the course of his or her program.
Thirteen programs were selected for Agriculture Achiever grants. These are grants for up to $5,000 that give agriculture programs the funds they need to add new equipment or upgrade facilities.
The purpose of both grant programs is to greatly increase opportunities for agriculture students throughout the state.
“We know the best thing we can do with these dollars is put them back into local communities to give ag teachers an opportunity to have an impact,” said Sheldon McKinney, executive director of the Kentucky FFA Foundation.
One of the $10,000 grant recipients is Menifee County High School. Their grant is being matched by local ag development funds. Agriculture teacher James Kash plans to use the grant to purchase a CNC digital plasma cutter and table system, as well as make general upgrades to the school’s agriculture facilities.
Students in Menifee County High School’s agricultural mechanics pathway will learn to use the advanced equipment and make metal products that will be sold to help support the program.
“I want these kids to have hands-on experiences,” said Kash. “They want and need that. We want to get them prepared for a job – whether that’s plumbing, construction, welding. We’re giving them the resources to pursue those passions while being responsible financial stewards.”
The other $10,000 Innovation in Agricultural Education grant recipient is John Hardin High School. Agriculture teacher Jeremy Hall is using the grant to create a hydroponic STEM research lab at the school. Students will have access to six different types of hydroponic growing systems, including a highly innovative drum hydroponic unit that actually rotates the plants around a grow light.
Students will use the lab to both conduct science experiments and grow herbs and produce. Their crops will be used in the school’s cafeteria and sold to support the agriculture program. According to Hall, proceeds from these sales will make the lab self-sustainable.
The thirteen programs selected to receive Ag Achiever grants for 2020 are as follows: Bourbon County High School – greenhouse renovations, Caldwell County High School – CNC plasma cutter, Carlisle County High School – greenhouse renovations, Carroll County High School – animal science lab expansion, Casey County High School – ag mechanics lab update, Cumberland County High School – utility tractor purchase, Greenup County High School – portable livestock pens, Hart County High School – small animal lab expansion, Livingston Central High School – fertilizer buggy, McLean County High School – agriculture shop update, My Old Kentucky Home Middle School – hydroponic system purchase, Pendleton County High School – new welder purchase, Rockcastle County High School – greenhouse update.
“It’s the intent of the Foundation to drive as much money as we can back to the local level,” said Keelan Pulliam, chairman of the Kentucky FFA Foundation’s board of directors. “We’ve been fortunate in the last few years that our gifts from both individual donors and corporate sponsors have continued to grow. That puts us in a very good position to be able to expand what we’re able to do.”
Funding for these grants comes from the donations collected through the farm license plate, or “Ag Tag” donation program, sponsorship by Universal Leaf, and funds raised at the Foundation’s annual Blue & Gold Gala.
“We would like folks to know that our Blue & Gold Gala is still on for September 19th in Bowling Green this year,” said McKinney. “The generosity of donors through the gala is how we are able to support programs like this. Even though this has been a hard year with so much uncertainty, it’s still important that donors contribute, so we can keep offering students opportunities they would not otherwise have.”
The Kentucky FFA Foundation cultivates partnerships which support the FFA vision to grow leaders, build communities, and strengthen agriculture. Kentucky FFA Foundation initiatives impact nearly 14,000 FFA members in 158 FFA chapters across Kentucky.