It took years of planning and nearly a year of construction before students could take advantage of the new 40-foot-by-120-foot pole barn located near the high school's soccer practice field. The new Agriscience Facility will serve as a space not only for Milford FFA students to work with livestock and prepare for the Delaware State Fair, but will also serve as a laboratory, and possibly a classroom space in the future, for additional science-related classes.
Not all high school students are willing to give up a Sunday morning to be at school.
For Milford FFA members, spending an early morning on the Milford Senior High School campus at the newly established Agriscience Facility is a pleasure, not a task.
“It’s not a job, it’s not a bother to come here,” said freshman FFA member Brielle Hermstedt, as she shoveled out the pen of one of the facility’s miniature Hereford cows. “It’s an opportunity and it’s a privilege.”
It took years of planning and nearly a year of construction before students could take advantage of the new 40-foot-by-120-foot pole barn located near the high school’s soccer practice field. The barn, sheep shed, fencing and feed areas are completed at the facility, but the bathrooms are still under construction at the moment. The plan to add a classroom is still in the works, but construction has not started yet on that addition.
Before the barn was up and running, Hermstedt found it difficult to fully participate in FFA, which she joined in 8th grade, because she didn’t have the transportation to the farms previously used by FFA members for Delaware State Fair preparation.
“Being here [on the campus], after school I can just walk here, whereas before I’d have to try to con a ride from my parents,” Hermstedt said. “Now we’re here almost every day after school, usually before school, too. … And now that we have this amazing new barn, it really opens a new horizon for our school.”
Senior FFA member Ellie Pittman agreed that it’s been an important step for Milford FFA to have an accessible facility for younger students interested in increasing their levels of participation.
“Being at the school makes it easier for them to visualize and see what impact they’re making and be more involved members,” Pittman said.
The facility currently houses a handful of Cheviots sheep, as well as a two-month-old lamb, and two miniature Hereford cows. In a few weeks, pigs will be added to the barn as well. Future plans may include chickens or other small livestock, but it really depends on what the students want and can handle, explained animal science teacher and Milford FFA Advisor Judith Bruns.
“A lot of this is driven by student interest. I listen to what the kids say they want,” Bruns said. “[The types of animals] need to be okay for students who’ve never been around animals and smaller animals are best for the space.”
While Bruns and the FFA members are still working to fully stock their flocks, or herds, or droves, Bruns sees limitless possibilities not only with the barn, but with the surrounding land, which she referred to as a “land lab.”
“It’s more than just the animal science kids,” she explained as she pointed out that agricultural structures, mechanics and animal science students helped build the shed for the sheep, the fence and the dividers for the feed area. Bruns said that greenhouse classes will be able to take advantage of the land when the weather breaks to plant items donated by the Middletown Lowes.
As the students and teachers become familiarized with the facility, Bruns said she hopes to work with other science teachers and develop lab elements to her own classes to utilize the space.
“There’s so much possibility with this facility. Some people just see the barn, but we know there’s so much more to it,” she said.
But it’s really the hands-on experience, Bruns said, that will help bring light to the importance of agriculture in today’s society.
“It’s a chance to experience something that so many kids don’t understand about food and fiber and where it comes from,” she said. “Now they can see it.”