ROSE HILL — Students and officials from Union High School had a lot to smile about Thursday evening.
During the FFA Alumni meeting, UHS received a $10,000 grant from the Monsanto Fund for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education. Funds from the agriculture company’s philanthropy unit will used to purchase a Computer Numeric Control (CNC) equipment and software programming in the agricultural mechanics program. The system uses functions and motions controlled by a computer program for wood, plastic and aluminum work.
In 2017, The America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund provides $2.3 million in grants STEM to schools across the United States. Since it began in 2011, the program has awarded more than $14 million to rural public school districts. North Carolina has received $235,000.
Jordan Cremer, district sales manager for Monsanto, presented the award to UHS, which was made possible through nominations from farmers. To receive funds administrators and teachers submit applications explaining the needs for the grant. The program’s Farmer Advisory Council, consisting of 30 farmers from across the country reviewed applications from finalist and selected the winners.
“We want to thank our local farmers, teachers and administrators for your support,” Cremer said.
Cremer added that Monsanto formed a partnership with FFA youths many years ago.
“We hope that this grant will enhance the math and science curriculum in the school district,” he said.
Dan Chabot, agricultural education teacher and FFA Advisor, is looking forward to receiving the CNC equipment.
“It’s an innovative piece of machinery and it’s really exciting,”
In a news release, Monsanto Fund President Al Mitchell said the program works with farmers to help make their local communities a better place by preparing their students for successful careers.
“The schools we’ve worked with tell us that the grants they receive through the Grow Rural Education program have real results,” Mitchell stated. “In many cases, students seem more excited and interested in what they’re learning and the programs funded by these grants have resulted in higher student engagement in STEM.”
FFA Progam Updates at Union
A FFA presentation followed the grant presentation. The student presenters included Zipporah Hayes, president; Kennedy Pridgen, sentinel; Faith McLamb, treasurer; Jeremy Powell, vice president; Casey Riley, reporter; and Tyson Weeks, secretary.
Chabot and Arno Peterson, agriculture education teacher and FFA advisor, spoke about the importance of supporting the program and different ways parents, sponsors and FFA alumni can support the program.
“The FFA is the largest student-based organization in the public school system today,” Chabot said. “This organization would not be possible if it weren’t for the parents.”
During the presentation, Peterson also thanked everyone for their support.
“We appreciate our alumni for helping us sponsor students,” he said. “Without the sponsors we would not be able to offer the opportunities. There’s a place for every student to be in our FFA and we make that possible and we try provide opportunities for career and technical education.”
Updates regarding the program and efforts to get more community members engaged were highlighted. Some of them include working with elementary school students through the Food for America program; movie night at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 23; a fitness program held every Tuesday and Thursday, and a flea market in the spring.
One of the new initiatives is an agricultural career day at the school for students. Local businesses will be invited to talk to students about potential careers. Another goal is to create a scholarship program for students to attend FFA camp.
Raymond Hayes, president of the UHS FFA Alumni, applauded the students for their work.
“Our students are doing a great job and their doing a wonderful job of representing the organization as well as our community,” Hayes said.
(Chase Jordan | Sampson Independent)
(Chase Jordan | Sampson Independent)