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Posted Friday, November 9, 2012
Siler City, NC - The Chatham Central High School and Jordan-Matthews High School chapters of FFA, an organization of agricultural education, have each received $5,000 Program Improvement Grants from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. The state head of FFA programs presented the checks to representatives of the two programs during the Monday, October 8th, Chatham County Board of Education meeting. Twelve students and two teachers were on hand to receive the checks and be recognized by the board.
William Upchurch and Tommy Emerson attended on behalf of the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. Emerson, a Chatham County native and a member of the first graduating class of Jordan-Matthews in 1957, shared some of the rich history of agriculture in the county, of which he has been a part for many years. He also noted how programs like FFA in high schools help to ensure that tradition will be able to continue. In 2011 the Tobacco Trust Fund gave $180,540 to the North Carolina FFA Organization to distribute for its Agricultural Education Improvement Initiative.
The NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission was created in 2000 by the NC General Assembly to administer part of the funds from the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between the state and major tobacco companies. Since then, the agency has funded over 100 different projects which have touched nearly all North Carolina farmers.
“We’re excited to be a partner with the FFA,” said Upchurch, Executive Director of the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. “This is a great opportunity for students and teachers to feature innovative and creative projects designed to strengthen Agricultural Education. These students represent the future of agriculture in North Carolina.”
Chris Hart, Chatham Central horticulture teacher, and Andrew Atwell, Jordan-Matthews agriculture teacher, briefly told the audience how the funds will be used at each of their schools. The Chatham Central program will purchase a laser engraver to use in plant labeling and during its annual plant sale. Jordan-Matthews will use the funding to improve its campus greenhouse to bring more 21st Century technology into it.
Joshua Bledsoe, State Agricultural Education Leader, noted the importance of helping FFA programs to obtain funding like that of these grants. He also mentioned that North Carolina FFA has the seventh largest membership in the nation. Over 19,300 North Carolina students comprise 253 local chapters across the state.
“These grants will enable our teachers to invest resources in a number of critical areas, from equipment and facilities to new course development,” said Bledsoe. “We are extremely grateful to the Tobacco Trust Fund Commission for sharing our vision and making possible tremendous opportunities for students throughout the state.”