The Simon Kenton High School Agriculture program was one of only nine agricultural education programs in Kentucky selected for a 2018 Rising Sun Grant from the Kentucky FFA Foundation.
This special grant program provides one-time funding for newly formed agriculture programs or programs that are transitioning from one teacher to the next.
“Finances are sometimes the biggest hurdle to success for first year agriculture teachers, those chartering programs, or reviving programs,” said Sheldon McKinney, executive director of the Kentucky FFA Foundation. “We want to give them a head start.”
Agriculture classes are often hands-on and inquiry-based, challenging students to look at a problem and figure out the solution through research and exploration. To do this most effectively, agriculture teachers provide instruction in a wide variety of settings like workshops and labs, and often take students to conferences and competitions where they can practice what they have learned in class.
Ashley Cottrell, the program’s agriculture teacher, plans to use the grant funds to help offset costs for FFA members to attend FFA leadership conferences and competitions. Funds will also be used for FFA-related materials such as manuals, posters and awards.
Despite being a program in transition, several students in the Simon Kenton agriculture program participated in FFA competitions and conferences last year. Cottrell’s goal is to continue to increase the size of the school’s FFA chapter and make it possible for even more students to experience FFA events.
The Kentucky FFA Foundation started the Rising Sun grant program in 2015, when its board identified a need to support new and transitioning programs as one of its priorities. In only three years, it has awarded $72,500 to new and transitioning agriculture programs. The funding for Rising Sun grants comes through Kentucky FFA’s LEAD Endowment, from the Kentucky Ag. Development Fund.
The Kentucky FFA Foundation cultivates partnerships which support the FFA vision to grow leaders, build communities, and strengthen agriculture. Kentucky FFA Foundation initiatives impact more than 14,500 FFA members in 154 FFA chapters across Kentucky.