New barn for Gainesville ISD ag students

Apr. 25—Gainesville Independent School District has finished construction on its Agriculture Facility.

This new facility allows for growth in the Ag program and Future Farmers of America Organization by allowing better facilities for students to house and care for animals and plants, as well as working on the mechanical parts of the industry.

"There's more space for more animals and stuff like that," said Pamela Young, a senior in the FFA program who has been involved since she started high school. "So more students can participate, and we have room for new animals, too."

Students in the ag program have opportunities to show many animals, including rabbits, goats, pigs and cattle. The new facilities include not only new places to house the animals, but also more room to work with and care for them, including an actual wash station, as opposed to the hose and mud pit students previously used.

"There wasn't a lot of room in the other one [building]; we were all kind of crammed together, especially on the cattle side. We had to make it work," said Abigail Mote, who is finishing up her junior year and third year in FFA. "This new wash rack helps a lot, and more room is obviously good for the animals ... I'm glad we have the extra room to turn everything out and we don't have to pick and choose."

"It's amazing; we've got a lot more space in it, a lot more accommodations to make it easier to house the animals," said Maegan Fowler, one of the FFA Advisors. "We've got an indoor show practice arena now, we've got space for cattle so they can all be out of the sun ... it's made things more organized because we do have designated spots for each individual species, and I think the kids like having ownership of their areas."

"We have a 9,000 square foot storage facility here," said Joe Warren, the Director of Maintenance and Operations. "We've got feed storage rooms ... an automatic watering system. It has temperature control that will keep it above 50 degrees in the wintertime; it also has the circulation of air for the summertime."

Students, staff, board members and community members gathered at the new facility on Tuesday to see what all has gone into the new building.

"This really began as king of a grassroots idea a few years ago because we saw how fast our ag program has grown and we had to ensure that we had adequate space," said Superintendent DesMontes Stewart. "I think that this facility is going to take us well into the future."

In addition to animal science, Gainesville ISD's ag program includes classes on technology and mechanics, which teach kids about electricity, engineering and construction, as well as plant science courses that teach kids about the production and arranging of plants.

FFA not only helps kids get involved in agriculture, but also develops leadership and presentation skills. Gainesville FFA currently has 112 members at the high school level and 11 members between third and eighth grade.