Sumter Middle School benefits from FFA

Published 2:23 pm Saturday, February 2, 2019

By Preslee Owen

AMERICUS — “I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds … we have the promise of better days through better ways” …. So, goes the script of the FFA (Future Farmers of America) Creed, learned and embedded in every student who passes through Brock Brinson’s agriculture class at Sumter County Middle School. The Times-Recorder recently interviewed three of Brinson’s students — Kaylon Harvey (7th), John Anthon Thomas (7th), and Joshua Campbell (8th). They all gushed over how much support and knowledge they have gained through Brinson’s class. They explained how FFA and agriculture class was more than just some subject they were learning about. They mentioned how they had made friends with not only classmates but also their teacher, felt they belonged somewhere, and were gaining experiences they never even imagined.
The ag classes are the result of a vision to bring self-development and career education to students at the middle school by school board member Jim Reid, Superintendent Torrance Choates, Principal Mae Mills, Vice Principal Rodney Perry, CTAE Director Donald Gilman, and the entire school board. Membership is off to a brisk start with 100+ members in the middle school alone. Classes are underway for 7th and 8th students.
The students in Brinson’s agriculture class find learning about how chicken eggs develop and hatch, genetics, small animal care, and horticulture to be interesting concepts. While Brinson’s students enjoy participating in these hands-on activities, they are also learning valuable life and leadership skills. “It’s not all about academics; we want to [not only] teach, but to educate our kids about life skills, self-respect, and respect of others,” Brinson said.

An FFA member enjoys wearing the FFA jacket to reflect pride in the organization, and the values it instills.

Gilman stressed the importance of vocation in education career exploration. Brinson brings in guest speakers from the community from economic development, Georgia Power, and the ag industry. “Community is very important to us, but the most important thing primarily is taking agriculture into the community,” he said. FFA Awareness Week is coming up in February with involvement in volunteer landscaping, litter removal, posters, and an essay contest sponsored by the local Farm Bureau. The FFA is thankful for the parental support and community partners. Will Faust, manager of the local Flint Equipment Co., has donated the use of a John Deere lawn mower that will facilitate the learning of safety, maintenance, and actual driving of the mower through the ag class.

Brock Brinson, ag teacher at Sumter County Intermediate School. who also advises the school’s FFA, is shown with students in a hands-on activity, learning to use a saw to cut wood blocks.

One of the FFA’s main fundraisers that will send kids to leadership camps, competitions, and informative trips is made with their local honey sales. Through the production of honey, the class has learned the benefits of pollination along with the benefits of honey itself. In addition to being an amazing natural sweetener, honey has health benefits such as sore throat soother, a natural energy booster, allergy treatment, and is good for some skin irritations. FFA member and agriculture student Donovan Bettis’ research reveals that honey of high quality has large amounts of important antioxidants that can reduce the risks of heart attacks, strokes, and some types of cancer. The antioxidants in honey have been known to modestly reduce blood pressure. Honey has been used as treatment for wounds and burns since ancient Egypt, and is still commonly used today.
Once the local honey is produced and bottled, the students add their own “Sumter County FFA” labels. One of the students suggested that they top the bottle with a nice bow and miniature brass bee. This has become the FFA’s signature packaging. The honey project made it all the way to Atlanta on a mission for grant funds from the Ignite College and Career Academy which benefits the entire school system. The school was awarded the grant.
The Sumter County Middle Schools agriculture class and FFA are doing great work in and around their surrounding communities. They continue to receive generous and well-deserved donations from local businesses and members of our community. The students are quick to thank all supporters of the FFA.