FFA growing careers in greenhouse
EL CENTRO — The chapter of Future Farmers of America here is stepping up its agriculture education after unveiling its new greenhouse, a project that has been in the works for a year at Southwest High school.
The new greenhouse will allow the El Centro FFA students to grow different types of plants and experience the science behind growing crops.
“It’s another form of hands on learning, they’ll learn by doing stuff in person and these kids learn the most by learning a skill and then applying it,” said FFA teacher Kristin Mayo. “We’ve talked about it for a long time but getting that hands on experience, it’s just unreal.”
El Centro FFA, which had its first Agriculture Advisory Committee meeting of the year Thursday, took the opportunity to invite guests to tour the greenhouse.
“It makes me really excited because we’ll be getting plants growing in the greenhouse,” said El Centro FFA President Julissa Reyes. “It’s really exciting. We’ll really benefit from it.”
The project has been in the works for the last three years when then-school principal Danette Morrell approached Mayo to inform her of the possibility the school could be awarded an incentive grant through Career Technical Education. Since then, school and district administrators have worked toward the goal of setting a greenhouse for the FFA program.
In addition to the greenhouse, the program will get a shaded area next to the greenhouse which will be used for Horticulture - as plants mature and grow they’ll be moved outside for more space and will allow the students to transplant them into bigger pots.
The program is finalizing the list of plants to be grown in the greenhouse. Mayo said that to start they will probably begin with tomatoes, different types of peppers as well as succulents sometime in October. Part of the goal is to have the students market and sell the crops they grow and to also get a glimpse of the agricultural business aspect.
Reyes said she is excited to learn more about the cultivation of plants and even more interested in mating them.
“Getting to explore other aspects of agriculture is such a good learning experience,” said El Centro FFA vice president Malei Tipton. “A lot of the kids are excited because we’ve never had an opportunity like this before.”
Last year, FFA students were able to start working on a garden on campus in which they grow a variety of crops.
In the foreseeable future, FFA will also team up with culinary arts program students, to create something similar to a farm-to-table program.
Agricultural programs such FFA and 4-H are vital in agricultural communities such as the Imperial Valley, not just to help students understand more about the industry but also to ensure the agricultural industry of the Valley continues to thrive.
“It’s a blessing to be a part of this community and we need this community to sustain and grow, so we’re hoping that this class helps enable that process,” Mayo said during the meeting.
Mayo talks about the main features of the Greenhouse during a tour to a small group on Thursday including SHS Principal Matt Phillips (left). EDWIN DELGADO PHOTO
SHS FFA Teacher Kristin Mayo accompanied by some of the El Centro FFA officer (background) talks about the main features of the Greenhouse during a tour on Thursday. EDWIN