Following the Pella Community School District Board of Directors’ vote to approve the program, the Pella High School FFA is preparing to launch a livestock farm program.
FFA adviser and agriculture teacher Jacob Bowers said the new program will be modeled after a similar program at Pleasantville High School that has been in place for several years. The funding to start the program, he added, was received through a Farm Credit Services grant obtained by last year’s crop of FFA seniors:
“Their instructions for the final was to complete a grant request for something they would have liked to have learned more about in the past two years of ag class. Every student that semesters completed the grant for the concept of a portable animal learning academy. Since then, we have hosted two pie auctions, submitted grant requests to FCS, and updated the concept to an actual livestock farm …
“Thank you to FFA parents and Alumni for helping to raise funds through our annual pie auction, and thank you to Farm Credit Services for their generous donations toward this project.”
The PALA concept has been used by a number of other schools in Iowa, including Des Moines’ Central Campus, Muscatine, and Wayne of Corydon. The Pleasantville program began in 2013. The Pella concept will be set up on a farm south of Pella on Elevator Road (County Road T-17) owned by Carol and Elliot Mapes.
Bowers said the PHS FFA is thankful to the Mapeses for allowing the FFA to launch their program on their farm. He also explained how the program will work:
“For the Fall 2020 semester, we are starting with raising sheep, which will be led by the 25 students in the freshman Ag I class. The Fall 2020 College Ag Business Class is working on finding additional funding and farms to rent.
“In the spring of 2021, FFA members will have the opportunity to purchase their own sheep, feed, etc. to raise on the farm.. Our FFA chapter has 40 highly active members, and have to meet specific criteria to maintain their memberships.
“If the sheep project is a success, we will proceed to finding a farm to raise pigs with the sophomore Ag II students, and then move into turkey and cattle production in future years.”
Bowers noted during his presentation to the school board on Monday that in the event a student or group of students fails to follow through on their commitments to the program, a farm manager will be on hand to ensure the safety of the animals – which will be sold.
For more news and information – “just about Pella” – visit www.pella-news.com.