If you read my column last week about the great kids from Rutland Middle School’s Agriculture program and Future Farmers of America club you’ll know I had the chance to meet an amazing group of young folks. These middle school students collected more than $3,000 worth of dog and cat supplies so my animal welfare group, Central Georgia CARES, can help vulnerable animals and the people who love them.
Not only are these kids industrious and ambitious, they are very kind. The very idea they went to so much effort to help CARES was immensely impressive. We observed their kindness when we met them recently in Perry where they were competing in a State Dairy Show. Even my parents commented on how exceptionally respectful they were to adults and to each other.
Since meeting these kids I’ve learned more about an Ag program and an FFA group than I ever knew. And it’s pretty fascinating.
Even though the FFA group prepares future farmers it also prepares future scientists, educators, doctors, biologists, engineers and even chemists. You see, the agriculture program requires the knowledge and application of math, science, public speaking and poise. In fact, it helps kids explore career paths they may be interested in that align with their aspirations.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Telegraph
The great thing is these kids learn more about critical subjects like math and science through hands on experiences rather reading a book and looking at a board in the classroom. They’re learning by doing.
And that’s what excites the two long time math teachers turned Rutland Ag and FFA leaders, Mr. Andrew Reeves and Mr. Robbie Bartlett. These two energetic colleagues and friends for many years were teaching math in Houston County.
They were teaching in the traditional way from a book and in a traditional classroom. And while the kids were appearing to grasp the concepts they seemed to have trouble retaining what they were learning.
So Mr. Reeves and Mr. Bartlett wanted to make the subject matter come alive. They envisioned an agriculture program for middle schools student taught by both Mr. Reeves and Mr. Bartlett.
And that’s exactly what they did with the Ag program at Rutland. They made math and science real to the 10- to 13-year-old students by teaching outside the traditional classroom model working through the agricultural aspects of having the kids responsible for raising and showing dairy cows. Then through hatching baby chicks they learned even more.
The FFA program has been highly successful with almost 200 members at Rutland Middle School. But that is due in large part, in addition to Mr. Reeves and Mr. Bartlett, to the incredible support from parents and alumni.
They are highly engaged volunteers, like Barbara Hamrick, who they affectionately refer to as Meme, feeding the kids and conducting fundraisers to help defray the cost of going to the competitions. So parents do not have to pay out of pocket for their kids to participate.
So maybe this explains why the kids we saw were so industrious, ambitious, yet so respectful and appreciative. They have an army of committed adults on their side.
I’m just grateful they care about CARES. Everybody wins, especially the animals.
Send questions to email@example.com. Visit www.acpup.com or like his Facebook page at AC Pup – Central Georgia CARES.