Clarke County Farm Bureau Helps Local FFA with Swine Cooperative

The 2014 Virginia General Assembly starts on Wednesday, and while many issues will come up between now and March, ag education is one that is always on Farm Bureau’s mind.

Below is a story written by Clarke County FFA Student Brittany O’Meara on the swine cooperative Clarke County Farm Bureau and the Clermont Foundation will help oversee with the Clarke County FFA.

If you have any stories on things your county Farm Bureau is doing for ag education that you’d like to share on the blog, please contact Kelly Pruitt at 804-290-1293 or kelly.pruitt@vafb.com

The Clarke County Public Schools, Clermont Foundation and the Clarke County Farm Bureau will share in the oversight of FFA members in the swine cooperative. The cooperative will be used by FFA members as a means of a Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE). SAE’s are hands-on educational experiences that enable not only FFA members but all students to become aware of the agriculture opportunities in the communities around them. This can be done through simple projects such as being a part of an agricultural business, finding a job related to agriculture, or by using science to experiment on agriculture based ideas.

This partnership was very beneficial in the process of the swine cooperative because it gives a basis as to how it will function. The Clermont Foundation is providing the land and means for the cooperative to function properly. They also agreed to enable students’ access to Clermont farm during the time that the cooperative is active. The Farm Bureau generously agreed to fund the cooperative with a maximum of $6,800 to the FFA chapter. In addition, they agreed to assist in helping students with day to day monitoring of the pigs at Clermont. CCPS plans to construct a checklist for students to ensure the swine and resources are appropriately monitored. Most importantly, the students will receive the proper instructions on how to fulfill SAE requirements and how to properly take care of swine. Lastly, the goal of all three of the organizations is to actively encourage student involvement in the swine cooperative.   

The swine cooperative provides the perfect means for students to gain a better understanding of how agriculture functions on a farm from day to day. It not only teaches how to appropriately care for a pig but also encourages more involvement in FFA and in the agricultural industry. Students also receive a better understanding of how a real life business functions through the hands on experience they gain by working with the pigs. It also provides a way for students to learn the economics behind a business. For instance, how much profit was made and how that relates to how much weight was gained by the pigs. Lastly, the swine cooperative is meant to demonstrate how a proper SAE is planned and carefully constructed. When the swine cooperative is completed, students will hopefully be encouraged to be more involved in the FFA association.   

The swine cooperative could not have been done without the continued support of the Clarke County School Board and the community. When asked how it will benefit Clarke County Dr. Mike Murphy says, “Education is the most important thing we do in the Clarke County Public Schools. Any time we can expose young people to new and different ways of thinking, planning, and problem solving we have really done a good job.”

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