East Bladen FFA gets support from county for Golden LEAF grant application

By: W. Curt Vincent - cvincent@civitasmedia.com

ELIZABETHTOWN — East Bladen High School is looking to expand its agriculture curriculum, and representatives from the school’s Future Farmers of America got the ball rolling by visiting with the Bladen County Board of Commissioners.

The group is applying for a Golden LEAF grant through the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund for up to $150,000 — and was hoping to get support from the county in the form of a letter.

Earl Miller, an agriculture teacher at East Bladen and the FFA advisor, told commissioners how important the agriculture industry has become to Bladen County, as well as across the nation.

“Every year there are 60,000 jobs available in agriculture and only 30,000 get filled,” he said. “And these aren’t the cows and plows type of jobs, they are high-paying positions in the areas of technology, science, lab technicians and attorneys.

“This can go a long way toward cutting down on the brain-drain we see, because it will help to provide good jobs right here,” he added.

Miller introduced two East Bladen students who are officers with the school’s FFA — Reporter Anna Smith and Secretary Olivia Barnes — who gave a presentation to the commissioners.

The two students spoke about how FFA and 4-H have enriched their experiences at East Bladen, taught them responsibility and compassion. They also spoke about the need for improved and expanded facilities and curriculum at the school.

If awarded the grant money, it will be used to add curriculum space in the form of a 50-foot by 60-foot building for class rooms and laboratory.

“I for one think this is a worthy idea,” said Commissioner Ophelia Munn-Goins. “I think we should support this and give the group the letter it needs.”

The motion was seconded by Commissioner Arthur Blanks and unanimously approved by the board.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.

W. Curt Vincent