Republic Agriculture Education Program Lives To Serve Through Pork Donation
COLUMBIA, MO. – Each year, Feeding Missouri and Missouri Farmers Care’s Drive to Feed Kids bring awareness and raise resources addressing food insecurity across the state of Missouri. Members of the Missouri FFA Association get the opportunity to address food insecurity in their local communities as partners of the Drive to Feed Kids Campaign.
The Republic Agriculture Education program located outside of Springfield, Missouri has been a supporter of the Drive to Feed Kids since the beginning of the campaign. The program continues to grow each year and the chapter is actively looking for more ways to get students involved. Duane Melton is one of the three agriculture educators at Republic, each playing a vital role in the positive development of their students. They have collectively worked together to ensure each student is exposed to each component of the agricultural education three circle model – Classroom Laboratory, Supervised Agricultural Experience, and the National FFA Organization.
“We like to incorporate the three circle model to try to give students equal opportunity to explore each component of agriculture education while also making sure we’re hitting all six career pathways. Our kids definitely ‘learn by doing’”, Melton states while reflecting on the first part of the FFA Motto. “We ensure time in the classroom equipping them with the knowledge they need to go out on the farm and be successful, while getting hands-on experience to see and do things they wouldn’t normally do.”
Being on the outskirts of Springfield, The Republic FFA chapter encompasses many facets that contribute to its success. The school district currently sits on an old farm, maintaining some of the original structures and utilizing them within their animal science program. As a true Farm to Fork facility, the chapter collectively raises two rounds of pigs that are harvested at the College of the Ozarks and then processed at school. This unique project allows students to experience both the animal and food sciences behind raising livestock, and experience agriculture processes from start to finish.
The chapter is not only made up of students with traditional agricultural experience, but urban backgrounds as well. Having access to barns at the school farm gives all students the opportunity to utilize the space and grounds. For some, it is the perfect place to house their animals that may not have the space at home. Elaina Bestol, incoming senior, and Elise Chaney, incoming junior, have both raised animals over the past few years in these barns. While all livestock are welcome in the Republic Agriculture Education program, pigs hold a special place in these ladies’ hearts.
“It’s a lot of work but if you love what you’re doing and are dedicated to it, it’s not work.” states Elise. With a rapidly expanding animal science program, students are learning many valuable lessons through the responsibilities that come with their livestock. Both Elaina and Elise spend a lot of time feeding their pigs, cleaning their space, and prepping them for shows. Whether it’s early in the morning before school or late in the evening during spring break, all students work around the clock to take care of their livestock.
“At the end of the day, you’re making a difference with all of these animals. It’s a great experience learning how to take care of all of these animals, but you’re leaving them knowing they’re going to make a difference in the lives of others.” reflects Elaina.
As the Republic Agriculture Education program continues to grow, service remains a top priority in the heart of these students and educators. The agriculture program not only strives to serve their own community, but create a community amongst their chapter members.
“All of the things that we have in our Program of Activities are service based.” states Emma Robinson, rising senior and current President of the Republic FFA Chapter and Area 12 Association. “In our community, we participate in multiple service projects throughout the year that allow us to give back, but we also prioritize serving others within our chapter specifically. Interdependence is a character trait we aim to live out by allowing people to help you when you need it but being reliable to others that may need the help instead.”
The Hogs for Hunger campaign ensures that every foodbank is receiving pork through the power of partnerships. The Republic Agriculture Education program is truly “Living to Serve” by giving pork back to those in their community and beyond. “We definitely need to make sure students are aware of food insecurity and expand past just the school farm,” says Melton. “Hogs for Hunger is another great opportunity for us to show our students that we need to be looking out for one another as good stewards of the land and help those who are less fortunate than we are.”
HOGS FOR HUNGER
Drive to Feed Kids first launched in 2017 with a goal of building collaborative partnerships among non-profit organizations, farmers and agricultural businesses committed to addressing food insecurity in Missouri. To learn more about Missouri Farmers Care, the Drive to Feed Kids, and Hogs for Hunger visit http://mofarmerscare.com/hogs-for-hunger/.
MISSOURI FARMERS CARE
Missouri Farmers Care is a joint effort by Missouri’s agriculture community to stand together for the men and women who provide the food and jobs on which our communities depend. The coalition of more than 45 leading Missouri agricultural groups promotes the growth of Missouri agriculture and rural communities through coordinated communication, education and advocacy. www.MOFarmersCare.com.
MISSOURI FARMERS CARE FOUNDATION
Missouri Farmers Care Foundation enables Missourians to understand the influence and importance of agriculture in their daily lives by serving as the centralized hub of the unified educational programs, awards, and hunger relief efforts of Missouri’s agricultural community.www.MOFarmersCare.com