Across the state of Florida, there is a serious lack of agriculture teachers. “There are approximately 30 openings. A lack of ag teachers means a lack of programs,” says Stacy Sturgis, Junior Livestock Board Member at the Central Florida Fair, “There are no teachers to run the programs, schools can’t keep them open, and much less add new ones.” Sturgis, her colleagues Jacki Stough and Courtney Kelley, and other board members recognize the lack of programs and are motivated to make an impact in the industry.
The Junior Livestock Board members seized the opportunity and got together to brainstorm ideas for the Young Professionals Initiative grant provided by the Florida Federation of Fairs; this grant program provides $500 to Fairs who want to embark on a new service project.
Sturgis, Stough, Kelley and other board members saw a need to expose at-risk youth to agriculture through rabbits and cavies (guinea pigs). “Exposing kids to animals teaches them certain levels of responsibility, including communications, money and time management, ethics, and even professionalism,” says Sturgis. The program will provide youth with the animal, feed, and housing in order to care for at least six months until the 2017 Central Florida Fair. CFF Junior Livestock Board Members “will also provide educational programming in animal care and management, feed, nutrition, showmanship skills, record keeping, and mentoring,” says Stough. She continues on to say that the students will have the opportunity to show their animal at the Fair and earn prize money, ribbons, and awards for their project.
The board members got the grant! Now, the real work begins. The board will develop budgets for the program, working with other sponsors to cover any extra costs. This means that at least 25 kids will get to experience taking care of an animal at home, recording their progress, and receive mentoring from the Junior Livestock Board; they will begin pitching the program to local YMCA’s and hopefully garner a little extra support as well.
The Junior Livestock Board
Made up of young professionals in the industry, the Junior Livestock Board is responsible for developing and executing new programs, fundraising, S.T.E.A.M. activities and so much more. They not only work during the Fair – these students are also taking part in Live Animal Show & Tells, Orange County Library Story-telling, and various other outreach programs throughout the year. Sturgis is currently studying Animal Biology and wants to become an Equine Vet; meanwhile, Stough, is studying Fair Management through the Rosen Hospitality Program; Kelley is working hard with the Board to ensure proper placement and presentation of the new CFF program.
To learn more, contact Stacey@CentralFloridaFair.com!