PACE — LEAD Academy has chartered their first Future Farmers of America chapter.

Mitch Lambeth, who teaches middle school science at LEAD, will be in charge of the FFA program. This is Lambeth’s first year at the school; he taught agricultural science at Central School previously and was the advisor of their FFA chapter.

“I was going to hold off a little while on going forward with an ag program,” Lambeth said. “I was going to give myself a year just to think about it, and I approached Mr. [Frank] Lay (principal) and said, ‘What if [we] went on ahead and did it?’ and he was all in.”

Lambeth said he got the blessing from Lay to charter a new chapter at LEAD, and they immediately went to work.

“We have been blessed,” Lambeth said. “I think now we are at like about 30 members… and we’ve got plans for competitions and everything, and the kids are really taking it and owning it.”

The program currently has approximately eight student officers. Lambeth said his students do everything to the best of their ability, so that is why he knew bringing an FFA chapter to the school would be a good idea.

“The first day I talked to them about what FFA was, they looked at me and said ‘That’s LEAD Academy,’” Lambeth said. “The pillars of FFA are premier leadership, personal growth and career success, and that’s kind of what we stand for here at LEAD; we do everything with such a high esteem.”

Approximately a month ago, Lambeth said Lay approached him about building a barn for the agriculture program on the 30 acres of land they recently broke ground on for their new campus — the Joppa Project.

The barn will be one of the first things built on the property and used as an office while construction is taking place, according to Lambeth.

“We have been met with a lot of support,” Lambeth said.

LEAD will host an agriculture day event on Nov. 17 — the Harvest Celebration — which will be a school-wide event focused on the new program. This will be the first Harvest Celebration for LEAD, but they plan to make it an annual event.

Lambeth said the hardest part about leaving Central was leaving the FFA program and the students involved; however, he said he feels blessed not to have missed a step.

The LEAD FFA program is ready to participate in competitions and build relationships with other Santa Rosa County schools to create a family within the world of agriculture education, according to Lambeth.

“I’ve always been blessed to work with awesome kids, and God has blessed me again and again with the kids and how they take it and take pride in it,” Lambeth said.

“I want us to be able to serve the greater community in the ag world.”