FFA projects growing at Southern


By Lorna Hart - Special to OVP



FFA instructor Jenna Meeks and Racine-Southern FFA Chapter President Cassidy Bailey with one of the new hydroponic systems purchased with the funds from the Grants for Growing program.

FFA instructor Jenna Meeks and Racine-Southern FFA Chapter President Cassidy Bailey with one of the new hydroponic systems purchased with the funds from the Grants for Growing program.


Lorna Hart | Courtesy

About FFA

The National FFA Organization is a school-based national youth leadership development organization of more than 760,000 student members as part of 8,700 local FFA chapters in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

RACINE — Things are growing at Southern Local Schools as a result of a grant recently awarded to the Racine Southern FFA chapter.

The $5,000 grant was received from Grants for Growing, a nationwide program sponsored by the Tractor Supply Company that provides grant funds to local FFA chapters.

According to a press release from the National FFA, Grants for Growing “is nationwide program that provides grant funds to local FFA chapters to support the development or improvement of agricultural education projects that enhance the classroom experiences for students through chapter engagement activities.”

Jenna Meeks is in charge of the FFA program at Southern, and teaches classes associated with the educational aspects. She said Racine Southern FFA has purchased two new hydroponics systems with the grant funds, and they are already up and running.

“The systems will be placed throughout the school for all the students to view,” Meeks said. “We are opening the hydroponic systems to the entire school and inviting any teachers that are interested an opportunity to introduce hydroponics into their classrooms.”

She said that by placing them in various locations throughout the school instead of keeping them exclusively in the FFA classroom, students of all ages will have an opportunity to see a non-traditional way of growing their own produce.

Hydroponics are part of the curriculum of the Greenhouse Class Meeks teaches. FFA members will be responsible for the hydroponic systems, which includes two already part of the program, and the two additional purchased with the grant.

Cassidy Bailey is the current president of the Racine Southern FFA Chapter, and will share the responsibility for overseeing the systems. She said she became interested in hydroponics during the previous school year when she was asked to run the hydroponic system.

“I really wasn’t that interested at the time, but my adviser, Devan Eckert, suggested I work on it, so I did so during my study hall period,” Bailey said. “That experience led to my becoming involved in hydroponics.”

Her affiliation with FFA began when her mother signed her up for the 4H program to give her a broader experience with farming.

“I’ve been in 4H my whole life, beginning with animal projects, I really like animals,” Bailey said. “My family wasn’t into farming, and my mom wanted me to have an opportunity to experience those things. She thought 4H would be a good way for me to do that.”

Bailey moved from rabbits, to calves and goats, and became a student in the FFA Agricultural program at Southern when she entered high school. She said she learned from her stepsister, who was an FFA officer, a different stand point of the program, and decided she too would become an officer.

She began as a reporter, and decided to pursue a leadership position, saying “I went for president because I thought it would be a good learning opportunity for me, and it has been.”

Bailey said she enjoys her role as president, and her new responsibilities in the hydroponics program.

The FFA program at Southern also offers classes in Agricultural Food, Natural Resources, Mechanical Principals, Business Management and Livestock Selection.

Meeks said she is happy to have received the grant which allowed them to purchase the additional systems, and enjoys her time with the students in the programs she teaches. She said helping her students learn all that agriculture has to offer is very rewarding.

“I like my role at Southern working with these great kids, providing them with an opportunity to learn all aspects of agriculture, so that just like Cassidy, they can pursue their goals and gain the confidence and experience they need to move forward,” Meeks said.

© 2021, Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.

FFA instructor Jenna Meeks and Racine-Southern FFA Chapter President Cassidy Bailey with one of the new hydroponic systems purchased with the funds from the Grants for Growing program.
https://www.mydailysentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2021/10/web1_10.19-Jenna-Meeks-Cassidy-Baily.jpgFFA instructor Jenna Meeks and Racine-Southern FFA Chapter President Cassidy Bailey with one of the new hydroponic systems purchased with the funds from the Grants for Growing program. Lorna Hart | Courtesy

By Lorna Hart

Special to OVP

About FFA

The National FFA Organization is a school-based national youth leadership development organization of more than 760,000 student members as part of 8,700 local FFA chapters in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.

Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.