Milford FFA Receives Grant for Growing

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22By Terry Rogers

Milford’s FFA chapter recently learned that they had been awarded a $1,000 grant as part of the Tractor Supply Company’s “Grants for Growing” program. Only three chapters in Delaware received grants as part of the program.

“The program is a competitive grant program designed to further or boost agricultural education projects,” Scott Haldeman, FFA Advisor and Milford High School agriculture teacher, said. “The projects submitted must be sustainable, benefit future FFA members and impact local chapters.” Mr. Haldeman said that the program is used in conjunction with FFA Week, held February 19 through 28 this year.

Mr. Haldeman said that the grant will be used to fund their garden project which enhances plant science opportunities for students. Produce raised in the garden is sold at the Milford Farmer’s Market during the summer. The grant funds will purchase a storage shed, compost supplies, vegetable seeds, irrigation supplies and garden tools.

“We will use our own MHS agriculture students to build the shed,” Mr. Haldeman said. “The students will plan, prep and maintain the garden over the next few months. This grant is very beneficial to our agriculture department as it gives our students hands-on opportunities for both plant science and for students studying structure mechanics.”

FFA stands for “Future Farmers of America,” but the organization is not just for students who plan to enter the agriculture industry. Members aspire to become teachers, doctors, scientists and business owners. The name was officially changed to “FFA” in 1988 in order to reflect the growing diversity and new opportunities in the agriculture industry.

The organization was the brainchild of Walter S. Newman, who wanted to address the growing problem of young men leaving family farms for work. Mr. Newman became the Virginia State Supervisor of Agricultural Education in 1925 and began working with Edmund C. MaGill, Harry W. Sanders and Henry C. Groseclose, staff members of Virginia Polytechnic Institute, which eventually became Virginia Tech, Agricultural Education Department.

Mr. Newman felt that establishing an organization that offered farm boys a way to develop leadership and offered a greater opportunity for self-expression would be beneficial. It was his belief that such an organization would build the young men’s confidence in their own ability and pride. The four men developed bylaws and a constitution and another colleague, J.O. Hoge, suggested the group be called the Future Farmers of Virginia. The organization reached the national stage when 33 students from 18 states gathered at the Hotel Baltimore during the American Royal Livestock Show in Kansas City, Missouri in order to establish the Future Farmers of America.

Milford School District has one of the largest FFA chapters in the state, with more than 200 students participating in the organization. Students are able to take advantage of a state-of-the-art Ag Barn that allows them to learn animal science subjects hands-on. Students in the program have received national recognition for almost ten consecutive years.

“Our annual Spring Plant Sale begins May 2 and we currently have two greenhouses full of bedding plants, small potted plants and mixed planters,” Mr. Haldeman said. “Parents should also be on the lookout for our FFA Parent Member Banquet, scheduled for May 12, invitation that will be arriving in the mail soon.”

Anyone interested in purchasing plants during the Spring Plant Sale should contact Mr. Haldeman via email at shaldema@msd.k12.de.us.