Tennessee High School Receives Farm Credit Services of Mid-America Gift

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Farm Credit donated $5,000 to the McMinn County, TN FFA toward the construction of a new livestock learning center at the high school campus.

Kevin Edwards is one of three vo-ag teachers and FFA advisors at McMinn County High School in Athens, Tenn. He’s excited about the school’s new livestock learning center, which after years of dreaming, planning, and preparation, will soon become a reality. Now, with the help of a $5,000 gift from Farm Credit Services of Mid-America, final preparations for the center are one step closer to completion.

“We’ve needed this center for a long time. It will be a really great expansion of our program and allow kids to have a lot more hands-on activities in their classes,” said Edwards. “The ag teachers (Clay Swartout, Matt Crisp and Edwards), our chapter, FFA alumni, and community all very much appreciate Farm Credit for this large and generous donation, which also encouraged other partners to support us for this last phase of our fundraising.”

The 100’ x 45’ steel frame structure, which is located on the high school’s campus and received primary financing through a grant from the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program, is scheduled to open this spring. When operational, the multi-purpose facility will serve as a lab space for the vo-ag program and will include animal pens, livestock handling facilities, and a corral system. There will also be space for small animals and some wildlife projects, with plans to raise quail and wild turkeys from eggs. Some plant projects will be transferred from the current greenhouse to the new facility.

Edwards said that one nice feature of the new learning center will be the opportunities it provides for vo-ag and FFA students who don’t live on farms to be able to have livestock projects.
“A lot of the kids in our program today live in the country, but not on a farm,” he said. “This will enable us to engage a lot more of those kids in SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) programs who may not have the resources for something like that at home.”

Farm Credit financial services officer Shane Williams, of the ag lending cooperative’s Athens office, knows firsthand about the opportunities FFA can provide to young people.

“FFA was one of the most impactful things that happened in my life,” he said. “I had some great role models who encouraged me, and I eventually worked my way up to being a state officer. FFA opened doors I didn’t previously know existed. For me, it was the key to a very successful college experience and business career.”

As a result of his experience, Williams has maintained close ties with FFA and was glad to be able to help secure Farm Credit’s participation in the final phase of the fundraising for the learning center.

“We like to invest some of our earnings in ways that impact the community, and we especially have a heart for anything that engages youth, like 4-H and FFA,” he said. “This program has been very dynamic and successful for the last twenty years, and the opportunity to help the future of our community and agriculture was something we wanted to be involved with.”
About Farm Credit Services of Mid-America

Farm Credit Services of Mid-America is an $18 billion financial services cooperative serving more than 92,500 farmers, agribusinesses and rural residents in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. The association provides loans for all farm and rural living purposes including real estate, operating equipment and housing and related services such as crop insurance, and vehicle, equipment and building leases. For more information about Farm Credit, call 1-800-444-FARM or visit them on the web at http://www.e-farmcredit.com.

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