Franklin High School’s (FHS) Agricultural teacher Jenny Collins, has had a busy five years thinking about and planning a special trip for her Future Farmers of America students (FFA). Collins feels that by visiting other places students can learn about the agricultural practices away from home.
“I want to challenge my students, broaden their horizons and learn about another country’s agricultural practices,” said Collins.
Collins wanted to visit an English-speaking country so she started to research. She contacted Experience International (EI), a non-profit educational organization based in Bellingham, Wash. Their mission is “to embrace and create opportunities for international understanding and human resource development through technical and cultural exchange in a wide spectrum of disciplines including but not limited to agriculture and natural resources.” Through working with them, Collins finally decided on a trip to Denmark.
Danish agriculture is among the most efficient and knowledge-based agricultural clusters in the world. Students will be able to visit some of the abundance of farms to learn more about sustainable farming, along with meat processing plants and dairy farms. She and her students will visit some agricultural colleges and learn about their practices and FHS students will, in turn, get to speak to Danish students about American practices.
In order to finance this trip Collins and her students held many fundraising events, selling BBQ chicken and spaghetti plates, they held equipment sales, helped out with Deal’s haunted corn maze, sold Christmas trees and Fieldale Chicken boxes.
Recently, Collins and several of her students went before the Macon County Board of Commissioners to speak about her trip to Denmark and the County Commissioners were impressed enough to award her $7,730 to help offset the cost of the educational trip. Although Collins teaches agriculture at FHS, the lawyer for the school board has advised that this trip should not be a school-sponsored event due to liability issues. So the trip will be under the direction of Collins as the group leader, utilizing Experience International.
The trip to Denmark is scheduled for April 9-17, 2020. Fourteen students will be traveling with Collins along with seven chaperones. The students range from sophomores at FHS to graduates attending Southwestern Community College, who are Collins’ former students. One of the chaperones is also a former student of hers.
The trip costs $2,200 per person and includes travel, accommodations, food and a tour guide from Experience International. Students going on the trip had to pay $300 out of pocket toward the expenses, the remainder of the cost will be covered by fundraising money and the award from the county commissioners.
“The only reason this idea began was to benefit students, to encourage them to become locally and globally minded in the areas of agriculture,” she said. “I encourage everyone to be advocates for agriculture; thank a farmer for the food you eat and the clothes you have.”
Emily Bryson, a sophomore at FHS who will be going on the trip was asked why she wanted to go on the trip.
“Why not? What a wonderful opportunity it will be to visit another country and get to learn about their farming and agricultural methods,” said Bryson.