FFA Chapter Diversifying Students’ Curriculum

Dublin, GA

While rows of desks in front of a dry erase board might be your typical classroom landscape, FFA programs are looking to change that perception of learning by giving students practical experience in real life settings. Here at Dublin High School, their classroom can change by the minute.

“We’re in out greenhouse right now. They can learn about horticulture and the different things that go into growing plants in a greenhouse setting,” says Jason Halcombe, Director of Marketing for Dublin City Schools. “We also have some livestock with our goats. And we’ve also added ag mechanics and a bunch of other programs that we’re hoping to give kids as much opportunity to learn what it is that they want because primary purpose is high achieve and success for all students. We realize that shows itself in different ways. It just makes for a really fun environment for the kids where they see that learning doesn’t have to be restricted to a desk.”

This unique way of learning is not just designed to keep the students engaged, but also give them an appreciation for what the agricultural industry means to their everyday lives.

“We have a lot of children that are country adjacent but aren’t very familiar with what ag is or what agriculture is or the processes that go into creating the food and the products that we need to live on,” says Halcombe. “So, agriculture education is very vital to us and our work through CTAE and just through exposing children to the food and fiber systems that move their life.”

Recently, one student applied those lessons learned to save an abandoned baby goat. It was an unexpected experience that was the result of a split-second decision.

“We actually came out here during the storm and was under the shelter trying to get the baby to milk. And then we saw another little baby that just looked so tiny to the point where he just looked like he wasn’t getting any milk,” says Dublin FFA student, Emaley Landrum. “When Donelle came back out here to check on him he was like, ‘Emaley, he’s face down in the mud, mama is just not wanting him. Can you please come pick him up?’ So, I did and that’s how I got stuck with the goat.”

While both fun and rewarding, being the caretaker for an infant goat does present a common complaint for any newborn.

“It has taught me that a goat is exactly like having a child and it has taught me that every time he sleeps, I need to sleep, otherwise I’m not going to get sleep. But he has actually gotten a little bit better on sleeping, which is good,” says Landrum.

So, with the wide variety of topics this course touches on from animal care to business management, students get to see just how diverse the agricultural industry really is and how many different career paths it can provide.

“With agriculture being the number one industry in the state of Georgia, our kids need to be familiar because making sure that they’re college and career ready is one of our core purposes. And so, understanding that for some of our kids, if we expose them to agriculture and the agricultural opportunities, that could lead them down a path that gets them college or career ready,” says Halcombe.

By: Damon Jones