by JULIE GMITTER
Each year, the Florida Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee awards $250 Mini-Grants to educators across the state. The goal of the FFB Classroom Mini-Grant is to increase awareness and understanding of agriculture among students and educators, and while the focus is agriculture, teachers across all subjects are encouraged to apply. This year alone, the Florida Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee was able to award more than $28,000 in Farm Bureau Mini-Grants to teachers across the state.
Three Highlands County teachers were selected to receive the grants. The applicants are graded on effectively conveying the project’s “why and how,” presenting distinct learning objectives based on realistic and attainable goals, presenting creative and innovative ways to address/involve Florida agriculture, and delineating an organized project timeline and budget. Each of the winners was awarded a $250 mini-grant to offset costs for their selected project. Here are this year’s winners:
- Krystal Brown of Park Elementary School in Avon Park
- Krystal Dombrowski of Sebring High School in Sebring
- Kendall Prescott of Avon Park Middle School in Avon Park
Brown’s project, titled “Chicken Excellence,” will utilize the funds to improve the school’s current chicken coop setup. The chicken coops they had in place were falling apart and in need of clean shavings for the bottom of the cages as well. Livestock production is used to show students the life cycle of chickens as well as the different uses for chickens and eggs. Students will learn about the various stages of chicks growing inside the eggs (in incubators, which the school already has), why chickens and eggs are important to humans, and the responsibility involved in raising chickens. The mini-grant will allow Brown to obtain clean shavings for the coops and improve the coops themselves, enabling students to have an easier time gathering the eggs from the coops and improving the conditions for the chickens, as well.
Trade Into Success
Dombrowski’s project, titled “Trade Into Success,” will utilize the funds to purchase materials that will enable students to try their hands at a trade career before leaving high school. Students will learn to wire a panel box to explore the electrical industry, create working PVC lines to explore the plumbing industry, and weld different types of metal to explore the welding industry. All three industries face a deficit in job applicants, but certainly no shortage of need. Since many students are encouraged to go to college and not trade school, this project may spark interest and help guide a career path that may not have existed. The mini-grant will allow Dombrowski to purchase PVC, metal, and electrical wires for the students.
Prescott’s project, titled “Raised Beds,” will utilize the funds to purchase lumber, deck screws, and hardware cloth to replace plant beds. Students will learn which type of wood to select, how to use power tools, and how to select the soil and the fertilizer for each type of plant. Students will learn the process of seed to crop, from start to finish, and understand the process by which their fruits/vegetables end up in the stores, and ultimately, end up on our dinner tables. On a larger scale, students will develop an understanding of the food insecurity problem in America, which will inspire students to consider developing solutions for these larger societal issues, as they are also issues within Highlands County, the state of Florida, and the United States as a whole. The mini-grant will allow Prescott to purchase the lumber and other needed materials to construct new plant beds and fill them with soil and seeds.
Danielle Daum, a member of the Florida Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee, helped award the grants.
“Through this program, we are able to give teachers a financial boost that will enable them to more easily incorporate fun, hands-on, agricultural activities and lessons into their curriculum,” Daum says. “School isn’t always fun, but the teachers we’ve met go above and beyond to teach reading, writing, math, and science in fun and interesting ways.”