By Don Groves
The Albany Ledger
Work begins this week on a new greenhouse for Albany’s FFA program.
Agriculture teacher Bryant Kurtz told the Albany R-III Board of Education at its Oct. 20 meeting about breaking ground for the greenhouse Oct. 21 on U.S. Highway 136. Kurtz said the greenhouse, which is being build with funds from the Williford Foundation, is expected to be completed by Dec. 1. He said all utility work is being done by local contractors and by Nov. 1 it “will be all but completed.”
“That’s pretty exciting news,” Kurtz said.
The Albany FFA chapter plans to have a spring plant sale, Kurtz said. Students will grow mums for a fall sale and poinsettias for Christmas. While plants sales will be the most visible aspect of the greenhouse to the community, Kurtz said the real benefit will come from the experience students gain working and conducting experiments in the greenhouse. He said the ag department will work with the biology department to get the greatest benefit from the greenhouse and even involve Virginia E. George Elementary School students in learning at the greenhouse.
Kurtz said he and fellow ag teacher Jeremy Palmer are working to complete the livestock facility at the FFA grounds site by insulating the facility and installing doors on the east side this winter. Plans are to sell three gilts owned by the ag department, breed its two sows and sell the young swine in the spring.
Kurtz said one student is also raising a goat at the livestock facility. He said he and Palmer are also looking at adding a steer or heifer for to expand the department’s educational offerings.
“We definitely have interest in more projects,” Kurtz said.
Creating a community garden is also a possibility for the ag department, Kurtz said. The department has already received a grant from Hy-Vee for such a garden, which would be created near the north side of the ag site. He said the ag department will apply for a $2,500 Food for All grant from the National FFA Organization. Produce would be made available locally, he said. Proceeds from sales would go to local charities, such as food pantries. Produce would also be donated to food pantries, Kurtz said.
Once the greenhouse is complete, Kurtz said about $90,000 to $100,000 of Williford Foundation funds will remain. He said that money can be used to create a multipurpose building that could serve as a store front for the greenhouse, a learning facility and a meeting place for the FFA and other community events. The details of the building are yet to be determined.
“We’re still in the planning stages,” he said.
Kurtz also told the board he and 12 students will attend the National FFA Convention and Expo Oct. 29-Nov. 1 in Louisville, Ky.
In other business, the board:
• Approved the district’s Comprehensive School Improvement Plan;
• Approved a $5,000 payment over three years to the Albany Parks and Recreation Department for softball field improvements; and
• Received Missouri School Board Association recommended policy changes.