March 6, 2018 | Casey Knox
(March 5, 2018) Chattanooga, TN — Boyd Buchanan announced that they have recently become a chapter of the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) as part of the Tennessee FFA Association.
According to FFA officials, Boyd Buchanan is the first-ever Independent School FFA Chapter in the state of Tennessee. State Officers visited Boyd Buchanan School on Wednesday, February 28, for a “welcome visit” and to finalize their charter.
“After years of cultivating our agriscience program through our on-site farm known as Blue Thumb Gardens, we are so blessed and honored to be designated an FFA Chapter,” says Melissa Owens who oversees the Agriscience Program at Boyd Buchanan School.
The faculty and student-managed Blue Thumb Gardens opened on the school’s 52-acre campus in 2014. According to school officials, produce grown at the farm is used in Boyd Buchanan’s dining program. The school sought an FFA charter earlier this year and were awarded a chapter number in late February. As a result, the school will be adding the Department of Education’s Veterinary and Animal Science Program of Study to our course offerings.
In recent years, Boyd Buchanan has added kitchen herb beds, a bee colony, as well as a chicken tractor. Fruits and vegetables from the cafeteria are composted and added to raised beds each year. Additionally, coffee grounds are fed to black soldier fly larvae that are fed to chickens as a sustainable protein source. Spring chicks are also hatched in the school’s incubator.
“This FFA chapter has been about 4 years in the making,” adds Owens. “As a farmer, I have a great passion for growing natural, pesticide-free vegetables and raising farm animals, so sharing this passion with my students has always been a natural fit,” Owens states.
Upon establishing this new FFA chapter, Mrs. Owens alongside other teachers will continue to expand the agriscience program and are looking into aquaponics as well.
“I very much want this program to be a part of the school’s efforts to promote sustainability by modeling a heritage lifestyle to our students and surrounding community,” says Owens.
Owens received a BS in Biology with a concentration in Zoology from Tennessee Tech University and is an alumni of Boyd Buchanan School.
“We really do have incredible teachers that are committed to helping the students grow spiritually, academically and socially,” says Renee Hood, Principal of Boyd Buchanan High School. “And, I can’t think of a better way for the students to honor and glorify God’s creation, accelerate through project-based learning, and work together than through our growing agriscience program,” adds Hood.