What started as just an idea a couple of years ago, has become reality for several students at Maconaquah Middle School. In January 2016, Miami-Cass REMC donated $5,000 through its Operation Round Up program to the school’s Farm to School cattle program. The project was being driven by 17 middle school students led by then seventh graders Gabby Weaver and Karli Miller.
The USDA oversees and promotes the Farm to School program with the goal of helping students gain access to healthy, locally grown foods, as well as educational opportunities such as school gardens and farm field trips.
In the first phase of the project, students worked to raise $13,600 for the construction of a barn and the purchase of a couple of steers. Thanks to donations from various businesses and families in Miami County, a 30-by-40 foot barn (designed by the students) was built on approximately two acres of school property. Two calves have been donated by area farmers. The students are now building the fencing necessary to house the calves on school property and preparing the pasture. While they finish this project, the two donated calves are housed on a farm neighboring the school.
The students care for the cattle through “Intro to Agriculture,” a new class offered this year and taught by John Sinnamon. All 27 participating students come from families that are involved in agriculture. In addition to learning about plants and livestock, they take turns caring for the calves. Sinnamon indicated the class spends about a fourth of its time outside.
The program has also provided opportunities for students to gain experience in communications and public relations. They have prepared all of the promotional material for the program, regularly update social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat), and present the program to area businesses for their support. They also recently hosted their second annual farmer appreciation lunch.
The program isn’t just a school-year program, it’s a year round program with cattle to care for over the summer. The class requires parental permission, and the students will be signing up for summer chores. The students anticipate that one of the two calves will be ready for slaughter in September with the other being ready shortly thereafter. Once the meat is processed, the majority of it will be used to feed students at the middle school. They are hoping that additional calves will be donated before then.
Next year, the school would like to expand the program by offering two classes. The school would also like to look into other livestock opportunities and other animals, such as bees. Discussions are also being held with the high school and its Future Farmers of America (FFA) program so students currently involved will be able to continue their involvement through helping to care for the livestock and mentoring younger students in the program.
The students are working on a five-year plan that would eventually include breeding. Their hope is to be able to provide 100 percent of the beef utilized by the school corporation.
If you would like more information about the project or would like to donate, contact Craig Jernagan, email@example.com, 765-689-9131 ext. 4000, or John Sinnamon, firstname.lastname@example.org, 765-689-9131, ext. 4210. You can also follow them on Facebook (Maconaquah Farm to School Program), Twitter (@MacMiddleBraves) and Instagram (@Mac_farm_to_school).
Making your pennies count for the community
We at Miami-Cass REMC are pleased to use your Operation Round Up donations to help make our community a better place to live and work. Four area organizations were recently awarded grants from the Operation Round Up fund for a total of $6,687.10.
Operation Round Up can make a difference for many community organizations. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the program by rounding up their bills to make it a continued success.
First quarter grants were distributed in April to:
- Lewis Cass Jr. High School: $435.10 for historical ice cream project for a history class.
- Ole Olsen Memorial Theatre – Children’s Theatre Workshop: $500 for assistance with budget for summer Shakespeare production of “The Tempest.”
- Back to School Festival : $1,152 for purchase of backpacks.
- Food Finders Food Bank, Inc: $4,600 for help with budget to provide hunger relief services
Applications for next quarter distributions are available on our website at mcremc.coop and are due June 30.