Back to the farm
Published 12:04 pm Wednesday, March 13, 2019
One of the most appealing aspects of covering the news in Charlotte County is having the opportunity to get “back to the farm.” The farm I am referring to is Randolph-Henry High School’s agriculture program and its main classroom, a successful, diverse 165-acre farm. The farm, developed and maintained entirely by students enrolled in the Future Farmers of America (FFA) under the guidance of Jim Pugh and two other teachers.
My first visit there was five years ago. The purpose of my visit was to cover a field day event being held for surrounding area elementary school students. The event was designed to give younger students an opportunity to experience and enjoy the atmosphere and activities of farm life. The range of diversity on the farm as well as the level of success achieved by the dedicated group of FFA students took me off guard that day.
I left there amazed and impressed. I am impressed to this day.
The organization’s purpose, in its own words 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.”
Randolph-Henry High School’s agriculture program consistently produces students that are true reflections of the organization’s intention.
I had a chance to visit the farm recently and talk with Jim Pugh. It was great to have a chance to catch up again. It was good to see what the young farmers had accomplished since the last time I was there.
The farm, as it turns out, has grown. The program has added acreage and increased the cattle herd. Pugh said that a few cattle had successfully been inseminated as well. The students had the cover off the high tower, allowing rainwater to acclimate the soil in anticipation of the upcoming spring garden planting. The aquaculture farm was doing as well as ever. The farm, overall, is thriving. It continues to reflect the character of the students that work it and the qualities that live at the heart of the purpose of the FFA program. The FFA agriculture program at Randolph-Henry stands as an example that other school systems could look to when deliberating methods of developing the potential of their students, regardless of their career path.
Noel Oliver is a staff writer for The Charlotte Gazette and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. His email address is Noel.Oliver@TheCharlotteGazette.com.