CentralSchool’s agriculture studies is growing by leaps and bounds, according to Mitch Lambeth, Central science teacher of Agriculture Foundations. The growth features three major additions to Central’s campus: a greenhouse, animal science barn, and an agriculture lab. “The county has been real good to us,” Lambeth said.
In 2009, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection teamed up with the Santa RosaCountySchool District and other environmental and educational organizations to open a state-of-the-art greenhouse facility on campus. The plan at the time was to provide an opportunity for students to learn about the varying ecosystems in which they live while they cultivate native plants to be used in local restoration projects.
Lambeth said students are learning hydroponic techniques as well as growing edible plants in raised beds outside the greenhouse. “The kids really are getting into it…That’s a big aspect of that agriculture industry now is those alternative crops. Eighty percent of the jobs in America are in the agriculture sector,” he said.
According to Lambeth, the school plans to fence in its recently built animal science barn for livestock. He said just last year the district built the barn on the campus and when they move the cattle in, it will be the first time in the county in 70 or 80 years students will be able to raise and breed livestock on a school campus.
The new agriculture lab, on the district’s budget, will replace the portable Lambeth currently uses for his Future Farmers of America and agriculture students. Alexandria Fay, the school FFA Treasurer said, “This was my first year actually getting into ag. It brought me into something new I never knew about. I actually thought I was not going to like it. But this is probably one of the main things that’s keeping me from going to another school.”
Lambeth said he’s seen athletes switch to a focus on agriculture. Daniel Griswold, school FFA Secretary said he’s still involved in sports but he’s very involved in FFA. Zach Rutherford, the school FFA Vice President said he switched his focus from athletics to agriculture. “There’s so much more opportunity in agriculture. I quit playing basketball and baseball just to do this full time.” Rutherford said he’s helping on his family farm helping raise pork and beef as a Student Agricultural Experience.