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HCHS agriculture program selected for FFA grant

A new storage and staging area will be added to the greenhouse at Harlan County High School this year, thanks to an Ag Achiever grant from the Kentucky FFA Foundation.

The school’s agriculture program is relatively new, and only recently added a greenhouse in order to give students a hands-on environment where they can learn more about plant growth and the business of horticulture. The storage and staging area funded by the grant will allow supplies and tools to be stored securely out of the greenhouse, allowing for a better workflow.

Agriculture students will produce bedding plants, vegetables, and hanging baskets in the school’s greenhouse, with the eventual goal of creating a revenue source to help fund the agriculture program.

Funding for Ag Achiever grants comes from Universal Leaf, as well as from the Kentucky Farm License Plate, or “Ag Tag,” donation program.

“Universal Leaf is committed to making a positive impact in the areas where our employees and growers live,” said Lindsay Efird, Universal Leaf representative. “Ag education is amplified when you can couple the classroom materials with hands-on experiences.”

“Effective agriculture programs are locally driven by the interests of students and the needs of the community,” said Sheldon McKinney, executive director of the Kentucky FFA Foundation. “These grants are funding some great, really balanced projects.”

The Harlan County FFA held their annual banquet in April in the school cafeteria. At the banquet they gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of the members and to show appreciation to the individuals who have given outstanding service to the chapter including students in the FFA, their parents, teachers and other special guests.

The following were rewarded the Honorary Chapter FFA Degree: Brent Roark, Edna Burkhart, Ben Baker, Harlan County Farm Bureau, Shannon Daniels, Rachel Mason, Anissa Alred, Eula Brock, Billie Gray, Jeff Phillips and Callie Lowery.

Trevor Sweet, Kentucky FFA secretary, said a few words at the banquet. Sweet is a student at the University of Kentucky and has made a great impression on many of the FFA members. President Jace Howard said, “As I can’t really speak for everyone, I can say for myself that Mr. Sweet has had a big impact on myself as an officer.”

At the banquet they said their last remarks to the 2018-2019 officer team and installed the 2019-2020 team. The new FFA officer team is: President, Jace Howard; vice president, Jessica Caudill; secretary, Jonathan Bennet; reporter, Kayla Blanton; treasurer, Hayden Daniel; and sentinel, Sierra Smith,

“Even though it’s hard for me to graduate and to leave my position behind, I’m very excited to see how all the new officers will do and I wish them all the best of luck,” says former president Austin Caudill.

The FFA chapter hired a new agriculture teacher, Joseph Dempsey, in August, and since then, the program has accomplished many things.

Dempsey, also the FFA advisor, said that he was, “very proud of the 2018-2019 officers, and thanked them for all the help.” Mr. Joseph Dempsey has very high expectations for all his students, FFA members and FFA officers.”

The Harlan County FFA Chapter has great things planned for the year to come, according to the FFA Reporter Kayla Blanton, “we can only go up from here, failing is not an option for us”.

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 14,500 FFA members in 154 FFA chapters across Kentucky.