WHITE LAKE — The Future Farmers of America camp is breaking new ground.
A groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday celebrated the beginning of construction for an additional girls dormitory.
“The new building will give us the opportunity to accept an additional 72 female campers,” said state agriculture education leader Gerald Barlowe.
In the past 50 years, the number of women in agriculture has grown immensely.
“Traditionally, FFA was for boys, but it changed, and the opportunity became open for girls,” Barlowe said.
According to Barlowe, there are 520 agriculture teachers in North Carolina, and over half of them are women. Also, about half of agriculture students are females.
“I think that women are seeing the many opportunities of going into careers in agriculture,” he said.
Part of the reason for the change could be due in part to the changing nature of the industry. Where once the term “agriculture” referred primarily to farming, the field now encompasses a variety of careers and opportunities.
“Agriculture is not just for production farmers, but also other things like sales and bio technology,” camp counselor Jennifer Broadwell said.
While the limited space at the FFA camp would seem on the surface to affect only the girls, in her job as counselor, Broadwell sees the impact on the everyone at camp.
“If there is a class of 10 girls and five boys that would like to attend camp and we didn’t have enough space for the girls, then the guys wouldn’t be able to participate either,” Broadwell said.
The FFA camp provides students with leadership skills and they also practice teamwork, she said.
“We have sports, talent shows, and a state leadership conference,” Broadwell said. “During a state leadership conference we have leadership development workshops.
“I also think camp really helps students because they experience a whole new pace of life. They aren’t at home watching videos.”
According to Barlowe, the camp is also planning to open its doors to campers beyond the summer months.
“The funding will also be used to heat and cool all of the dormitories so we can have camp in the winter and spring too,” she said.
In addition to the girls dormitories and the heating and cooling of the dorms, a new boys bathhouse will be installed.
All of the renovations are expected to start before October and be complete by the first of May.
The new girls dorm will be named after the camp’s biggest donor to these renovations, the State Employees Credit Union Foundation. Also, BASF and Farm Credit of NC were major contributors.
Rachel Horrell is an intern with the Bladen Journal. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.