On Monday, November 19, the Milford School District Board of Education voted unanimously to approve contracts that would allow the construction of a long-anticipated animal barn near the practice soccer field at Milford High School. The animal barn, first proposed to the board approximately three years ago but denied due to the lack of funding for the proposed facility, will provide students with real-life experience regarding animal life cycles and care.
Delmarva Pole Building Supply will construct the animal barn at a cost of just over $87,000, while Kent Construction was awarded the contract for storm drainage required under DNREC regulations. The cost for the storm drainage will be approximately $73,000. After electric and water has been installed in the barn the full cost of the product will be just under $600,000. State representatives from the Milford area, including Representatives Dave Wilson and Harvey Kenton, along with Senator Gary Simpson, have secured grant funding to help offset the costs of constructing the animal barn.
“Agricultural classes are meant to be hands on,” said Judith Bruns, Animal Science teacher and advisor to the Future Farmers of America (FFA) at Milford High School. “In all other agriculture classes, such as plant studies, students are able to get hands on experience. This barn will allow those students to learn directly with the animals and not just by sitting in a classroom or reading a textbook.”
The plan is to keep lambs and sheep in the animal barn year round so that students are able to follow the life cycle of the animal from birth through end-of-life. In addition, members of the FFA raise pigs that the club purchases from a local auction, raising them to show at the Delaware State Fair. After the fair, the pigs are sold and the profits returned to the FFA. Bruns explained that there are usually very little profits, and this is another learning experience for the students.
“Students see how much it costs for feed, how much it costs for maintenance and they learn that you don’t make much money with ten pigs, that you need hundreds or thousands to turn a profit,” Bruns explained.
Although construction of the barn is expected to be completed by spring, other necessary components, such as water, electric, fire alarms and a gravel access road will not be finished until later in the year. This means that the FFA will continue to house the pigs shown at the 2013 Delaware State Fair at the farm owned by Bruns’ parents. The new barn will be available for students to prepare for the 2014 fair. Other departments will also use the barn, Bruns said, as biology or other science classes will benefit from having a location to perform lab exercises to give students a hands-on experience.
“You can talk about this stuff in the classroom, but this provides a totally new experience for students,” Bruns said.