PACE — LEAD Academy started as a God-sized dream with 25 students based on the qualities of leadership, enthusiasm, attitude and discipline. Five years later enrollment is at 320 students and the school is expanding to its third campus on Joppa Road just north of Pace.

"Our focus: Jesus' kingdom first; ultra-high quality, first-class classical education second," said LEAD physical education teacher and agriculture advisor Mitch Lambeth.

Lambeth has been tasked with creating the Future Farmers of America (FFA) program at LEAD Academy's newest campus.

This is the second major fundraiser for the Joppa Project. The first was a golf tournament Sept. 14, at Stonebrook Golf Course to raise money for the entire campus. The harvest celebration and rodeo fundraiser is specifically for the agri-science department building.

Last year the school held a barrel racing competition fundraiser that brought in 127 riders from across the country. Lambeth and school administrators wanted to capitalize on that success and make it bigger. The idea for a complete rodeo was born.

The rodeo is a sanctioned event by the Professional Cowboy Association. Competitors will earn points towards their championship finals in January and are eligible for monetary prizes.

The goal of the fundraiser this year is to collect $100 thousand to start construction on a new stand-alone building on the Joppa Project site.

"We have had astronomical growth," said Lambeth. "It has been a God thing. We started with 25. Five years later, here we sit."

Lambeth said LEAD founder Frank Lay told him that one day he wanted to have an agricultural program at the school. That day has arrived Lambeth said. Right now, there are 53 students enrolled in the FFA program.

"Mr. Lay wants to dive right into the pillars of FFA: premier leadership, personal growth and career success," Lambeth said. Lay created a vision of what the FFA program should look like Lambeth said, then gave him a chance to develop the program.

"It's a dream of mine that I thought was going to die on me," Lambeth said of the FFA program. "But the Lord saw fit to bring me to LEAD Academy and follow the dream." 

Lambeth said he loves the blue and gold of the FFA.

"If you have a desire to work hard you will have a lot of opportunity," Lambeth said. "We teach our kids to take what we learn and use it for the greater good."

There are many ways to contribute to LEAD Academy. For more information visit http://www.leadacademylions.com or call (850) 995-1900.