The Foundation provides $9 million to create an agricultural education center

The Decatur Public Schools Foundation received a $9 million commitment from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation to build the FFA Agriculture Education Center.

This investment is designed for high school agriculture programs in the United States and will make the Dwayne O. Andreas Ag Academy “one of the nation’s leading dedicated agricultural education sites and complement the National Organization’s coursework and programming. FFAs available to students enrolled in the program,” the foundation said.

“When we provided the funding to establish the Dwayne O. Andreas Ag Academy, we had no idea how successful this program would be,” said Howard G. Buffett, president and CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. “By building this facility, I believe it further enhances the reputation of Ag Academy and its students as some of the best in the United States.”

The center will be on US 51, according to foundation executive director Zach Shields, and will include classrooms, labs, offices and an arena to allow FFA programs from other schools in the area to hold events there. events.

“We grew so fast that we outgrew our space,” Shields said. “We did everything we could to make it work, but we didn’t have enough classroom and lab space, combined with that (new building), we could use more land to do crops and farming stuff real.”

The Living Science Farm will also continue to be part of the program, he said, and the new site will free up space at MacArthur and Eisenhower high schools. Current plans are for freshmen and sophomores to stay in high schools for their agriculture classes, while juniors and seniors will spend morning or afternoon blocks of time at the new center when it will be done. The new center will also allow students from the agricultural academy to work with the four agricultural teachers, each with their own area of ​​expertise.

The hope is that work on the new center will begin in the spring and finish in the winter, Shields said.

Established in August 2018 with a $1.65 million gift from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Andreas Academy includes FFA educators and counselors who lead a formal, field-based academic program, emphasizing the emphasis on career development in the agriculture industry. Since then, Academy students from both high schools have worked together to build a living science farm. At this site, they pursue entrepreneurial projects and supervised agricultural experience activities with livestock and horticulture. The new facility will significantly increase program area and dedicated teaching space.

FFA Officers from Andreas Academy at MacArthur High School was recently selected as a National Excellence Model Chapter based on its third year of operations. This achievement recognized these Decatur students as one of the top 8,817 chapters in the nation.

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