Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Belton ISD Invests Big Money in Agriculture Education

For juniors Jesse Brinegar and Marrisa Coats, participating in programs like the Future Farmers of America is a natural extension of their upbringing.
"At home I have chickens, ducks, goats, horses. I barrel race. And my whole family has rodeoed in the past," Brinegar said.
But for others like sophomore Paige Pippin, raising farm animals is a completely new concept.
"I figured, what the heck. Why not try it out?" she said.
Some 700 Belton students already take at least one agriculture elective.
"We have roughly 60 students that are raising animals right now, but the majority of our animals are small animals that the kids can actually keep in their backyards in a subdivision," agriculture education teacher Brad Hobbs said.
But those animals are about to get a lot bigger. Two miles down the road from the high school, the district is planning to spend $600,000 to build a barn for larger livestock.
It's all aimed at giving students a jump start in whatever career they decide to pursue.
"It's going to teach them about selection, daily care, hair grooming, exercise, reproduction, budgeting money and keeping records. So everything that's going to help them the rest of their life with anything they do," Hobbs said.
All three girls say they're actually excited about getting their hands on the bigger animals.

"My dad, he won't allow it at our barn. He says no steers, no horses. Pigs only," Coats said. "So maybe since we'll have this, I can convince him to let me keep it there and then I can show one."
None of the three girls have nailed down exactly what they want to pursue in college, but both Coats and Brinegar say the hands-on experience they're getting in high school means it will likely have something to do with animals.
Belton High School has the fourth-largest Future Farmers of America chapter in the state. The district's new barn is scheduled to open in May 2015.

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