Every year when my camera and I hang out for a few days around the livestock showing area at the Texas County Fair, I end up impressed (in a good way) by all the kids and their animals.

Without question, Texas County is largely an agriculturally-oriented place and it stands to reason that anything that helps support, promote, sustain or advance agricultural is good for everyone who lives here. Showing and selling of livestock at the fair certainly does that in a big way, as youth are afforded an opportunity to work toward a goal in an agricultural format and setting.

Along the same lines, there is a proposal being considered by the Houston Schools Board of Education that I sincerely hope ultimately meets with approval. It’s an idea based on the premise that agriculture should take a front row seat in the local education process, and one that would seem to make plenty of sense for Houston and the surrounding area.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

Basically, Houston High School agriculture teacher and FFA adviser Josh Roehrs wants the district to operate a “school farm” where students could get significant hands-on experience in everything from livestock rearing to marketing and aquaculture. The farm would hopefully be located near the school, and Roehrs envisions it being run and maintained by students as an actual (and viable) business.

Hours spent at the school farm would be part of curriculum, and book and written work would accompany raising pigs and hens and all the other available farm-related activities. I can’t imagine how a whole bunch of kids wouldn’t be all over this.

Obviously, the school farm concept involves a cost. But that’s where the people making up an agriculturally-influenced community come in.

Part of Roehrs’ presentation to the school board outlined several potential methods of fundraising. But as he would be the first to point out, it’s not going to happen without good old community interest and involvement – financial style.

The bottom line is, this is far from an outlandish notion (illustrated by the fact that there are actually already several school farms in Missouri – even nearby), and if enough of the right people realize how good this would be for Houston, the money will follow. It’s a matter of discretion combined with foresight and wisdom.

Be on the lookout for a public meeting hosted by Roehrs and other school farm supporters in which details will be provided, questions will be answered and suggestions and advice will be accepted. When the time and date of the meeting are announced, the Houston Herald will share them.

I think the ramifications of the existence of an HHS FFA school farm are far-reaching and would positively affect pretty much everyone in Houston, whether directly or indirectly. There aren’t all that many ways a school can truly add or create something that makes a major (and favorable) difference in its community, but this sounds like just that for Houston.

I hope the community gets behind this idea and it transforms from the vision inside the head of a young, intelligent, amiable, motivated ag teacher (who’s a Mizzou grad) into a reality that positively and valuably touches the lives of many a 16-to-18-year old student.

And the rest of us.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

Advertisements