HOBBTON — Hobbton High School’s FFA Chapter has been awarded a $5,000 program improvement grant, funded through the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. The students and agriculture instructors, on hand Tuesday for the presentation, said they were very pleased to receive the funds.
“It is amazing that these funds were available during such tough economic times,” said Jason Davis, state FFA coordinator. “We are grateful funds were available and very pleased that Hobbton and other area schools, and many others around the state, have received this financial assistance.”
Davis said the Tobacco Trust Fund was established in 2000 by the North Carolina General Assembly to assist tobacco farmers, their families, and communities as they diversified into other revenue streams. The Tobacco Trust Fund Commission believes that FFA and Agricultural Education are an important part of securing the future leadership and workforce in agriculture, he said.
“By providing leadership experiences, career exploration, and readiness for 21st century skills, FFA and Ag Education are preparing students for a successful future,” remarked Davis.
During its 2011 grant cycle, the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission awarded a grant of $180,540 to the North Carolina FFA Association to distribute for its Agricultural Education Improvement Initiative. A total of 34 grants, with awards of up to $5,0000 each, have been directed to schools across North Carolina. Enhancing agricultural teaching programs, developing innovative projects and purchasing much-needed classroom equipment are just some of the goals of this program.
Johnny Jessup, one of Hobbton’s agriculture instructors, shared that the funds were greatly needed and he was glad to receive them.
“”This is an exciting opportunity for our school’s agriculture program. It will allow to refurbish our two existing greenhouses and build a third that will allow us to give our students greater opportunities in the years to come. In addition, we will be constructing a display/botanical garden on campus with the funds,” cited Jessup.
The North Carolina FFA is a youth organization of more than 19,300 student members preparing for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture, with 258 local chapters across the state.
North Carolina Eastern Regional Ag Education coordinator Benji Forrest stated that in just this year, the area had 22 new agricultural educators added.
“These grants will enable our teachers to invest resources in a number of critical areas, from equipment and facilities to new course development,” said Ssate Agricultural Education Leader Joshua Bledsoe. “We are extremely grateful to the Tobacco Trust Fund Commission for sharing our vision and making possible tremendous opportunities for students throughout the state.”
The North Carolina Trust Fund Commission was created in 2000 by the North Carolina General Assembly to administer part of the funds from the Master Settlement Agreement between the state and major tobacco companies. Since then, the agency has funded over 100 different projects which have touched nearly all of North Carolina farmers.
“We’re excited to be a partner with the FFA,” stated William Upchurch, executive director of the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. “This is a great opportunity for students and teachers to feature innovative and creative project designed to strengthen Agricultural Education. These students represent the future of agriculture in North Carolina,” added Upchurch.
“FFA strives to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education,” asserted Jessup. “The funds from this grant will allow us to better provide for our student’s needs and provide an enhanced educational experience for them here at Hobbton.”
Ginger Stone, Sampson County Careers and Technology director, also shared that the Midway High School FFA also received a $5,000 grant from the North Carolina Trust Fund Commission.
For more information regarding agricultural education and FFA, visit http://www.ncffa.org.