“I’m glad we’re moving some dirt,” said Dr. Travis Reeves of his first groundbreaking ceremony during his six-year tenure as superintendent of Surry County Schools.
A dozen or so golden shovels hit turf Monday at North Surry High School as ground was ceremonially broken on a new agricultural barn, made possible by funding from Surry County Farm Bureau.
The soon-to-be built barn along with surrounding land fenced in for pasture, will be a home for baby calves, sheep and goats where agriculture students will get hands-on training in caring for the animals, as well as learning the business end of cattle farming, according to North Surry agriculture teacher Michael Culler.
“You can only learn so much from a book,” said Culler, adding that the live animal learning lab will make available the lessons that can’t be gleaned from texts. Students will research and make decisions on food costs and milk-replacement costs and get a “great ag education all the way around.”
Agriculture is the largest employer in the county, said Reeves, responsible for more than $300 million in agriculture-related revenue here annually.
The county’s two other high schools, East Surry and Surry Central, are more land-locked with less available space. Still they will have similar programs with poultry, made possible by a partnership with Wayne Farms.
“We want to bring education to life — in more ways than one,” quipped Reeves.
Lance Mosley, president of North Surry’s Future Farmers of America club, said he was glad that students at his school would be able to learn the responsibility and respect needed to raise livestock, adding that other high schools don’t have that.
“This is truly a momentous occasion,” said Bryan Cave, director of Surry County Cooperative Extension. “This project has been ongoing for many, many years, but … I didn’t think it would come to fruition this fast.
According to Reeves and Robert Draughn, county director of plant operations, the next step is to get a concrete pad down on which to place the barn structure. That could be done by November or Dec. 1.
“We could be ready for animals by second semester,” said Reeves. “Maybe end of the first semester.”
Reeves didn’t want to commit to a more exact date.
“I don’t want to disappoint those kids over there,” he said, indicating the students who were loosening their ties and taking off their corduroy FFA jackets after the ceremony in the hot autumn sun was over.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.