Macon County Board of Commissioners throw in $7K for international field trip

Franklin High School

Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer

Franklin High School Students participating in the Future Farmers of America (FFA) program will spend Spring Break traveling to Denmark.

Denmark is among the world’s largest pork exporters. For more than 100 years, the production of pigs and pork has been a major source of income for Denmark. Approximately 90 percent of the production is exported and is thereby essential to the Danish economy and the balance of trade. The Danish pig industry is a world leader in areas such as breeding, quality, food safety, animal welfare and traceability. A group of 14 students and six chaperones will be spending nine days will get to experience the swine industry first-hand. 

FHS agricultural teacher Jenny Collins, co-teacher Devon Deal and agricultural students came before the board to make the funding request.

“I have advocated for agriculture in many different ways. First by allowing students to go to competition locally, and then to go forward in a regional setting, and then go to state, and then a few years later we went onto national competition,” said Collins. “My passion about five years ago was to keep building these students’ experiences in agriculture, and I thought it would be awesome if we could go on a trip, an international trip, that they could actually see agriculture in other countries and what’s going on because we import and export all the time in our country.”

The FFA has raised $26,000 of the $44,000 needed for the trip. The group requested assistance from commissioners to help fund the once-in-a-lifetime trip. Commissioners approved providing $7,730 out of the county’s contingency fund to help the students.

With the county’s allocation, the club will only have around $10,000 remaining and will continue to hold fundraisers.

Commissioner Karl Gillespie expressed his support for the FFA, and their request for additional funding.

“They have done a fantastic job taking the program to another level. But, it is a proven fact, the statistics show that if you go on these type of trips, the kids that are on these trips, substantially more of them end up staying in agriculture because it’s a life changing event.”

While giving his support of the trip itself, Commission Chair Jim Tate did share concerns about the funding. 

“I think it’s an issue of fairness with our taxpayer dollars that we’re spending. I think if we’re going to do it for y’all, then we have to do it for everyone moving forward,” said Tate. “So if this approves tonight and we have other groups come next month and the following month, the other groups know they’re going overseas, which I’m sure is going to happen. I just think we need to be prepared to do that as well.”