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Carter G. Woodson’s FFA Chapter Hosts City Leaders on Ag Day

Carter G. Woodson Academy’s FFA chapter welcomed special guests for the third annual Council Ag Day, coordinated by Farm Bureau and the nonprofit Fayette Alliance. The sponsors hosted Mayor Linda Gorton and LFUCG council members on a daylong tour of a crop farm, a cattle farm, an equine hospital, and the Kentucky Horse Park. The idea was to give local leaders a sensory experience and a fresh perspective on how agriculture shapes Fayette County, where the industry supports 1 in 12 jobs. Their first stop was Woodson Academy, where 132 students in grades 7-12 are FFA members. These young men of color add diversity to the statewide student organization and potentially could alter the landscape of the ag industry in Central Kentucky.

Maliek Washington“A lot of our members aren’t from farming backgrounds, but we can still benefit from FFA. It teaches leadership and how to interact with people who are different. It helps you become a well-rounded person,” said senior Maliek Washington, the chapter president, who plans to study Equine Science at the University of Kentucky. “We’re showing the community what FFA can do. We’re here to break stereotypes and show we can be more than farmers.”  

Maliek, fellow FFA officers, and instructor Jacob Ball led the guests outside to see their container farm, a highlight of the ag program. The converted steel shipping container, which sits in a courtyard outside Ball’s classroom, houses a high-tech hydroponic operation. Students currently grow herbs like basil and several types of lettuce, including romaine, sweet crisp, green butter, and oak leaf. With his cellphone, Ball can control everything from the container’s lighting and temperature to the water pH level and the plants’ nutrients. From seed to finished product takes about seven weeks of care, and the container can hold up to 2,400 plants. Some of the harvest ends up in salads in the school cafeteria, and a nearby pizza restaurant is interested in the fresh basil. Students can see the whole picture, including the business side.

“To have this educational tool is an amazing opportunity that has turbo-charged this program,” said Ball, who noted that over 61 percent of Woodson students take ag classes. 

Ball thanked the AppHarvest Foundation and outreach lead Deveney Redwine for the ag tech support of their container farm. “It really ups the level of engagement for our students, who have the opportunity to produce food that goes out into the community. They can work and see the fruits of their labor,” Ball said.

“Our future is in good hands with these young men,” Redwine added.

Did you know?

FFA (formerly known as Future Farmers of America) is a national organization with local chapters that train students for leadership through the lens of agriculture education.

Posted Sept. 21, 2022