Greeley-Evans District 6 starts new era of agricultural education

On Wednesday morning, Ethan Sinclair was building a table during an in-depth agricultural education class at Greeley West High School.

Sinclair, Sr., was working on his project, and fellow students in the fabrication and design course focused on their own projects in other areas of the large 49-year-old Agricultural Education Module building on the Greeley West campus.

Perennial agricultural education teacher Kelly Longacre moved around the rooms answering questions and giving advice to students when needed. Students will learn about woodworking and metalworking in the classroom, which is one of the stages of an agricultural education program at Grill West.

“It’s the perfect balance that allows us to go and do things on our own, and tells us how to do it right,” Sinclair said of Longacre. “He’s a phenomenal guy and a phenomenal teacher. It’s really interesting to work under it. “

Longacre, with 20 years in County 6 and 15 years at Grill West, including as an FFA advisor, is especially busy this week. In late March, after the spring break, he is preparing to leave the module of agricultural education in the wing of the rebuilt Grill West.

GRILLS, CO – FEBRUARY 15: Agriculture teacher and FFA adviser Kelly Longhacker (left) talks to senior Ethan Sinclair while Sinclair is working on his project – a chess board inlaid on a table – during Longacre’s classes on manufacturing and design in the module FFA in Grill. Western High School in Grill, February 15, 2022. Longacre has taught at the building for the past 14 years, but will soon, when completed, move to the new Grill West building. (Alex McIntyre / full-time photographer)

Classes in career and technical education, physical education and several core classes previously held in temporary classes will move to the wing of the new, rebuilt Greenville West from March 23, wrote Green West Director Jeff Cransson in an email. Grill West students will undergo distance learning on March 21-22, while teachers will learn new technologies in the classroom and unpack books and equipment to use the new wing.

Cransson said the demolition of portable classrooms, Clayton Gymnasium and other current school facilities will begin during the spring break. The new, rebuilt Green Grill will be open to all students in the 2022-23 academic year.

As part of the transition from “old” to new and rebuilt, Longacre is also involved in organizing this week’s FFA farewell tour to mark more than 100 years of agricultural education at the Grill, looking to the future. The roots of agricultural education in Grill date back to the early 20th century. Grill West became the leader of the District Agricultural Education Program and the FFA in 1973.

Several hundred people expressed interest in attending the farewell tour according to responses from Longcrow and other farewell tour organizers.

“I think the interest speaks to how the program has affected people, and some of them have skills that they use today,” said Longacre, himself a third-generation student in agricultural education and a member of the FFA. “They are happy to talk about their teachers and the program.”

The farewell tour will take place from 5pm to 8pm on Thursday at the current Greeley West High School. The evening will take place near the auditorium with exhibits on the history of agricultural education and FFA in the area. Students, past and present, will have the change to mingle and share memories. The panel discussion in the audience will focus on the contributions of three former agricultural education teachers: Melvin Adams, Merle “Dutch” Carvin and Paul Conklin, who have taught in the county for 85 years together.

GRILLS, CO – FEBRUARY 15: Students move to the workshop from the classroom side of the module during classes on manufacturing and design by agriculture teacher and FFA advisor Kelly Longacre in the Agriculture module and FFA at Grill West High School in Grill on February 15, 2022. in the building for the past 14 years, but will soon move to the wing of the restored Greeley West High School. The handprints on the ceiling are the fingerprints of the students of the previous classes of Longacra in the program of agricultural education. (Alex McIntyre / full-time photographer)

FFA Grill alumni are involved in continuous fundraising for future agricultural education teachers in honor of Adams, Carvin and Conklin. Graduates are trying to raise at least $ 2,500 for each person to enable them to earn a place in the Legendary Owl Society, organized by the Colorado FFA Foundation.

Grill graduate West Kristen Schmidt has deep ties to Adams, Carvin and Canclin through her family history with agricultural education and the FFA at Grill. She was taught in Longacre, and she calls agricultural education and FFA “part of my family heritage”.

Schmidt, who works with 4H and FFA students as part of her work at Nutrien in Loveland, was elected to the FFA National Officer while studying at a Colorado college a few years ago. Schmidt said the money raised in the names of Adams, Carvin and Conklin would go to the Colorado Teachers’ Success Fund of the FFA Foundation for the benefit and assistance of agricultural educators.

Schmidt worked with other Greeley West alumni with FFA Mikaela Fentan and Weld County clerk and record holder Carly Kopps on the farewell tour planning committee in support of Longacre.

The 23-year-old Fentan is a Green Grill graduate in 2017 in her final year in Colorado, where she specializes in soil and crop sciences. Fentan served as chairman of the farewell tour planning committee. She said the farewell tour is dedicated to the history of agricultural education and the FFA, and is preparing for the future.

“It continues the tradition of giving and doing some ways to return,” Fentan said. “The motto of the FFA is ministry, and we learn this through money, time, student support or testimonials. Or in the community. “

GRILLS, CO – FEBRUARY 15: Gael Enriquez, Jr., grinds nails from part of the old gym floor, which he puts on the table during manufacturing and design classes with agriculture teacher and FFA adviser Kelly Longaker in the Agriculture and FFA module at Agriculture and FFA. Western High School in Grill, February 15, 2022. Longacre has taught at the building for the past 14 years, but will soon, when completed, move to the new Grill West building. (Alex McIntyre / full-time photographer)

Schmidt is a member of the third-generation FFA Grill Division. Her uncles and father first went to Grill Central and then to Grill West when agricultural and FFA programs were established. Schmidt’s uncles and uncles learned some agricultural lessons from Adams. Her father was taught by Carvin

Schmidt was at Grill West while Canclin was teaching, but she didn’t have it in class.

“The programs have been a part of my family’s history for a long time,” Schmidt said. “It’s in the blood. I think it’s about celebrating their legacy. It’s so encouraging and inspiring to see stories from the community. ”

Schmidt was referring to messages and messages on social media in response to Thursday’s celebration.

Longac said the move of agricultural education to the restored Green Grill West will be the fourth in the program’s history. Agricultural education began at the 1918-19 school in the basement of the present Grill Central High School. Longac said the program moved to a new agricultural store in Central before moving to Greeley West in the early 1970s.

“Children keep in touch and this is traditionally part of agricultural education,” Longacre said. “They are tied to the teacher and to the program. Children feel part of the family of agricultural education ”.

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