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Milford Beacon
  • Milford High hopes to open agriscience facility to students this October

  • Milford School District has been working on establishing an on-campus barn for students interested in agricultural sciences, especially those participating in the FFA program, a project that should be ready for student use this fall.
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  • Milford School District has been working on establishing an on-campus barn for students interested in agricultural sciences, especially those participating in the FFA program, a project that should be ready for student use this fall.
    With more than 500 students in grades eighth through 12th participating in the FFA program through Milford School District, making it this year’s largest FFA chapter in the state, an on-site facility has been a longtime coming, said Superintendent Phyllis Kohel.
    “They’re very excited about the opportunities that the barn is going to give them,” Kohel said. “It’ll be a learning facility, a learning lab for our students.”
    Previously, FFA students preparing to compete in the Delaware State Fair had to travel to Canterbury Road to work with their animals, which were housed at a farm owned by the parents of animal science teacher Judith Bruns.
    “Because the barn is located on school property, now all students will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities related to raising animals, including designing a breeding program for sheep in order to maximize beneficial breed characteristics, as well as maintaining records to chart and compare growth rates of animals over time,” Bruns explained.
    “Right now those opportunities are only available to students who drive or can get rides out to my farm where students raise market animal projects for the Delaware State Fair,” she said.
    This year only 13 students participated in state fair animal projects through the Milford FFA, and Bruns hopes the new agriscience facility will increase those numbers significantly.
    With construction is in its final stages, students and faculty are looking forward to expanding their FFA program and taking instruction outside of the classroom and into their own hands.
    “It’s a great opportunity for our agricultural teachers to expand the classroom,” said FFA participant 17-year-old Colby Miller. “The barn is going to give us an upper hand on the hands-on side of learning.”
    Miller, who will begin his senior year this fall, placed fourth in showmanship this year at the Delaware State Fair for his Cheviots sheep. Other Milford FFA awards included first place landscape display, fifth place Delaware agriculture products display and first place National agriculture mechanics in the team category.
    Agriculture structures teacher Chris Stahl explained that the barn will not only house animals, but also allow for cross-curricular instruction, such as biology or math lessons.
    “Ultimately, at the end of the day we want to do what’s best for all of our students,” Stahl said. “This facility will help provide kids an extra opportunity to acquire the life skills needed to succeed in college and the workforce.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Construction began at the beginning of March on the 40-foot-by-120-foot pole barn, located  near the high school’s practice soccer fields. Building and Grounds Supervisor Glen Stevenson hopes the agriscience barn will be open for student use by the end of October.
    “Because it’s been in the works for quite a few years, it’s one of those things you have to see it to believe it,” said Milford High School Principal David Carter. “There are a lot of students who still haven’t seen it and it’s been a big fuss. We want to push it to [the beginning of the school year] as close as possible, but it may be a little longer.”
    So far the project has cost about $550,000, with a total budget of $868,844 in available funds. The project has been funded by a combination of $566,541 in remaining money left out of a 2007 bond bill for the construction of Milford Central Academy and Mispillion Elementary, $127,303 in road money provided by legislators for the blacktop and site work and an additional $175,000 provided by legislators in this year’s bond bill, Stevenson said.
    Currently the major project hurdle is the installation of a fire pump and fire pump room, which are required in order to obtain a certificate of occupancy. Finishing touches, such as electrical work, security systems, gates on the approximately one-acre fenced-in area and paving of the parking lot are still underway.
    “Bringing the barn in will really help add toward that open culture and community that embraces diversity and hard work that we want to instill within our students to help them grow and excel as we prepare them for college and the working world,” Carter said.
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