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Agricultural students at High Springs Community School will benefit from animals housed on campus.

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HIGH SPRINGS – The High Springs Community School Agriculture Department is now home to a couple of farm animals, but eventually will house more. This addition is thanks to the generous support of the community and the school administration. 

Recently, the school granted permission for students in the Agriculture Program to house their animals on school grounds.  Following that action, agriculture students went out into the community seeking financial contributions from local businesses so that they could afford to purchase the materials needed to build pens for their animals. 

A financial contribution was provided by Kelly Barber through Edward Jones Investments.  Labor to construct the pens was provided by Maintenance Management, Inc. 

The school now has four secure and permanent animal pens that are currently being used by two students, but the pens will serve many more students’ animals in the future.

The two students currently housing their hogs in the pens are Tony Myers and Olivia Beavers.  Both students are in the sixth grade, are members of the High Springs FFA Chapter and are showing pigs for the first time at the Alachua County Youth Fair and Livestock Show in Gainesville. The Youth Fair is held at the Alachua County Fairgrounds during the first weekend in March. 

During the year, each student is responsible for the care of maintenance of their animal.  Both Myers and Beavers stated that what they have enjoyed most about this project is being solely responsible for their animal. 

In addition, said Beavers, “One of the things I’ve learned raising my hog is that this responsibility is different than caring for a standard pet like a cat or dog.”  She does plan to show an animal at the fair again next year but may switch to showing cattle instead to broaden her horizons. 

“When working with livestock, not everything goes as planned,” said Myers. “You must be flexible in finding solutions to the problems you encounter.”  He also plans to show an animal at the next year’s Youth Fair.

Both students are raising market hogs, which means they will be sold at auction at the upcoming fair. The money these students receive for selling their animal is often put toward the cost of purchasing a future animal or for future expenses like vehicles and college. 

Having the opportunity to experience raising a farm animal first hand not only enhances the agriculture education they receive but will also provide them with many life skills.

“Raising animals teaches students valuable lessons on ethics, animal care, profit and loss, and many students use the money earned to contribute to their own college fund,” said High Springs FFA Advisor Jessica Butts.

Butts said, “I am very pleased with the progress of our Ag program this year at High Springs Community School. Thanks to the FFA Chapter’s Alumni, a generous donation from Kelly Barber of Edward Jones, and others we have transformed an unused area into four new pig pens.”

“These facilities allow students who are not able to raise an animal at home the opportunity to participate in raising swine for the Alachua County Youth Fair and Livestock Show. Before this addition we did not have a place to raise swine,” she said.

Butts added, “We are very grateful to all the donors who helped to make this project happen.

“Our FFA Chapter has been growing and we are happy to be able to offer more opportunities to our members.”

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