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Harris County School District’s STEAM Farm Awarded Grant for Rabbit Farming

HAMILTON, GA  – The development of the Harris County School District’s (HCSD) Agriculture STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) Farm continues to grow with the help of a $5,000 FFA (Future Farmers of America) “Grants for Growing” award sponsored by the Tractor Supply Company.

The funds from this grant will finance a 12’ x 20’ “kindling shed” for raising rabbits that will be moved to grow out cages and sold as a meat source to local buyers. Students in the agriculture classes at Harris County High School will build the “kindling shed” and the grow out cages for the rabbits as part of their curriculum. The proceeds will be a revenue source for supporting the farm.

As a component of the STEAM Farm, students across the K-12 spectrum of the school district will have the opportunity to study rabbit behavior, rabbit nutrition, and business management. Students also will learn principles of livestock, sustainability, and composting.

When asked about the grant and the STEAM Farm, Jay Borden, Harris County High School (HCHS) Ag teacher and Ag STEAM Farm coordinator, responded, “The best way to learn is through hands-on learning, especially when it comes to the STEAM concepts. When students are interacting with a real product, they can really connect to the concepts of biology, business, and environmental science.”

The day-to-day management of the rabbitry will be conducted by a HCHS Work-Based Learning student that has completed the agriculture pathway.

In the 2019-2020 school year, the Harris County Ag STEAM Farm received four grants:

  • The Buzz Fund Grant from the Georgia Beekeepers Association sponsored $1,500 for the construction of two beehives and equipment.

  • The CHS Foundation National Agriculture in Classroom Grant in the amount of $500 to install three worm farms.

  • The Georgia Agribusiness Council contributed $1,000 for signage to identify trees and trails.

  • The Georgia Foundation for Public Education Grant totaling $5,000 was used to install 23 raised garden bed near the bees.

The Grants for Growing is a competitive grant program for middle and high school FFA chapters that are developing and improving project-based or experiential learning opportunities for students. The Tractor Supply Company sponsors the grant program through corporate funding and in-store fundraising. From mid-February through the beginning of March, each Tractor Supply Store sells paper FFA emblems to support the program.

The HCHS Ag program is made possible through the CTAE (Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education) program, which prepares students for the next step after high school–college, beginning a career, registered apprenticeships, or the military by pathways.

HCHS Principal Tyler Dunn shared, “We are fortunate Mr. Borden is so committed to finding like-minded partners willing to support teaching students through this STEAM farm. To have a hands-on opportunity at this level for our students is a game-changer. Through our Ag Ed program we are able to spotlight the many career opportunities students have in the vast farming industry.”

Borden added, “The average American is four generations removed from the farm. Because of grants such as this one from the National FFA Organization and the Tractor Supply Company helping us with the expense of developing these wonderful learning experiences, our youth here in Harris County will have the opportunity to learn and possibly develop a career that societies around the world rely on for food, clothing, and housing.

Any business, group, or individual interested in supporting the Harris County STEAM Farm with financial support or in-kind donations may contact Jay Borden at borden-j@harris.k12.ga.us.