When Brooke Phipps teaches a unit on animal physiology at Central Cabarrus High School, she uses a PowerPoint lecture.She passes out worksheets with black-and-white diagrams. She ends with a video that gives her students the closest glimpse of the topic that she possibly can.But soon, thanks to a $6,000 Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant from Lowe’s Charitable and Education Foundation, Phipps hopes to be able to teach through more than just the two-dimensional approach.The grant will help finish the school FFA’s “Raised in a Barn” project, which aims to create an animal science facility that will give hands-on experience to the more than 200 students who take agricultural science classes at the school each year.When completed, the facility will have a fenced-in barn complete with a pasture for goats, sheep and eventually cows.“When we added the animal science program two years ago, we didn’t want it to be a class where they took notes and had worksheets. We wanted them to experience it,” said Phipps, who teaches horticulture and animal science at the school. “The grant is going to enable us to be a fully functioning agriculture facility that we can be proud of.”Students will learn everything from the right way to trim a goat’s hooves to artificial insemination to animal vaccination.“If we’re able to actually have animals down by the barn to do hands-on learning, then it’s going to help us learn the material better,” said Tyler Morrison, 17, a senior and FFA member.Central Cabarrus High School’s FFA club boasts more than 60 members, many of them on paths to enter careers in agricultural science or agribusiness.Austin Arnber, a 16-year-old sophomore, plans to earn a degree in agribusiness, then join his uncle setting up a dairy farm in the eastern part of the state.“It’s just open land there,” Austin said.Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports only 1 percent of the U.S. population list farming as their occupation, agriculture is still a crucial subject to study. In 1960, the average farmer fed 26 people, but today each farmer feeds 155 people, on average. U.S. farmers also provide 40 percent of the world’s corn supply.“It’s a huge part of the economy here,” said U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., during his listening tour last month through the 8th Congressional District. “The 8th District is the second-largest hog and poultry producer of all the districts in North Carolina. There’s an opportunity to grow ag jobs and the ag economy.”Phipps sees many of her students becoming interested in other aspects of agriculture, such as the emerging field of biotechnology, which spins off into diverse specialties from alternative fuel to pharmaceuticals.“There are more niche agricultural opportunities for students now,” said Phipps. The new animal science facility, she said, will help prepare them not only for the present, but for the future of agriculture as well. “It’s not just going to help the 200 students we serve now, but the students in the next 20 years to come,” Phipps said.
Monday, Mar. 04, 2013
FFA students will be ‘Raised in a Barn’
From left, Bailey Wix, 16; Delaney Williams, 17; Kendall Hatley, 15; Tyler Morrison, 17; and Austin Arnber, 16; all members of Central Cabarrus High School's FFA Club, transplant flowers in the school's greenhouse. The school's FFA recently won a $6,000 grant to expand the compound with an animal sciences facility. LISA THORNTON