When Ashley Kincaid thought about starting an FFA chapter at Medora High School, she knew the program would need resources.
Kincaid, the science and agriculture teacher at the school, wants to build a program that will grow, compete in the organization’s career development contests and be a symbol of pride for the school.
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“I hope to create a program the rural community of Medora can be proud to have their children involved in,” she said.
The program, established in January, recently received a significant boost from a national retailer.
Tractor Supply Co., a rural lifestyle retailer, recently awarded Medora’s new FFA program $1,505 as part of the company’s third annual Grants for Growing program.
Kincaid said she was excited for the program to receive the grant, which will be used to purchase lab equipment.
The equipment will include a hydroponics kit, wireless sensors for collecting data in labs, corn dihybrid genetics kit, a soil testing kit and a STEM-based animal science curriculum called CASE Principles of Agricultural Science-Animal.
Kincaid said she and school staff knew when they started the FFA program, they would be in need of some lab equipment.
“We knew when we talked about adding an agriculture education program, we wanted to align the agriculture courses with the school’s STEM initiative, and we’d need resources to successfully have an agriculture program,” she said.
Grants for Growing is a program within stores during National FFA Week in February where customers can make contributions during visits to stores.
The grant was one of 271 grants totaling $830,000 awarded to the National FFA Foundation with 600 chapters applying for grants.
The grants aim to help chapters build or enhance sustainable educational projects that will further their students’ understanding of agriculture, according to a news release.
Indiana Tractor Supply stores raised $19,500.
“Grants for Growing not only allows us to invest in Indiana communities but also invest in Indiana youth who are the future of the agriculture industry,” said Christi Korzekwa, senior vice president of marketing at Tractor Supply. “This program gives students hands-on learning experience as they watch their ideas turn their communities into stronger, more sustainable places.”
Since the program’s start in 2016, Grants for Growing has raised more than $2.2 million for the National FFA Organization. In total, the initiative has funded 994 grants supporting projects involving more than 103,000 students.
Medora is only able to offer an introduction to agriculture class this year but plans to add more in the next school year. The grant was a good way to start toward the progress of building more of an agriculture program.
“I’m grateful for Tractor Supply Co. for partnering with the National FFA Foundation to give schools across the United States the resources to grow agriculture education,” Kincaid said. “Getting this grant will allow us to purchase the needed lab equipment for our agriculture courses.”
Kincaid was an active member of her FFA chapter when she went to Southmont High School in Crawfordsville, and she wants to see her students learn leadership skills the group offers.
“Coming from a huge FFA background and knowing the impact FFA has had on my life, I knew that my students would benefit from this type of program,” she said. “Leadership development is in the state standards of every agriculture course, so it only made sense to incorporate FFA into our agriculture curriculum here at Medora.”
Kincaid hopes the program also will give her an opportunity to encourage students to continue to grow personally.
“I hope to instill in my members to be always looking for ways to be better than what they were yesterday,” she said. “FFA is a student-led organization, so I would like to see students take charge and gain leadership skill that will help them for the rest of their life.”
The National FFA Organization is a national youth organization of 653,359 student members as part of 8,568 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The organization is supported by 344,239 alumni members in 2,051 local FFA alumni chapters throughout the United States. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.