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South Lenoir FFA chapter wins $11,000 in grants

The FFA chapter at South Lenoir High School has made wintertime harvest time for grant awards, racking up about $11,000 in financial assistance for two projects designed to expand learning opportunities for agriculture students and their schoolmates.

A North Carolina Schools GO Outside Grant for $9,730 from the Outdoor Heritage NC Advisory Council will fund construction of an outdoor classroom adjacent the school’s agriculture education complex but available for use by all teachers and students at the school. The second grant – $1,100 from the FFA National Organization – expands the South Lenoir chapter’s community outreach by funding “blessing boxes” to be built by ag students and placed around the county.

State Rep. Chris Humphrey was at the school Friday to announce the GO Outside Grant.

“On behalf of the Outdoor Heritage NC Advisory Council, it is my pleasure to be here to congratulate Mr. Joseph Noble and his students and his team for winning a $9,700 grant,” Humphrey said. “It says a lot about the program here at South Lenoir and the hard work they do. These young folks have a service-driven attitude and that’s what we like to see in these grants. We’re happy to be here and acknowledge their achievement.”

Noble, with Joshua Singleton, is an agriculture education teacher and FFA advisor at South Lenoir. He said an outdoor classroom satisfies the aim of Outdoor Heritage NC to “offer students opportunities to explore and learn in hands-on environments” and the school’s purpose of providing engaging instruction.

“It is our daily mission to engage students in meaningful instruction which provides rigor while meeting the needs of all learners,” Noble said. “The construction of an outdoor classroom will provide our students an additional extension for hands-on learning in an inviting space where they can explore the many concepts from our daily instruction.”

Plans for the outdoor classroom site it in the shade of a 200-year-old live oak and a 100-year-old sycamore in an area near the school’s nature trail, ropes course and greenhouse. Plants grown in the greenhouse will decorate the classroom. Once the classroom is in place, construction will begin on a storage building that will house seating, dry erase boards and supplies needed for outdoor instruction.

LCPS has committed to providing supplemental funds to enhance the project.

Noble envisions the outdoor classroom being used at least three times a week by a range of classes, from agriculture education to fine arts to science and the Exceptional Children’s program.

According to Noble, construction should begin by the end of March and the classroom could be ready for use by mid-April. “Everything we have on the slate this year in grants will be utilized by our students this semester,” he said.

The “blessing box” grant, a Living to Serve grant award from the National FFA Organization, is an effort by the FFA chapter to address community hunger. Built by chapter members, the boxes will be supplied with food, hygiene items and children’s reading material through partnerships with local nonprofits and churches. The four boxes will be installed around Lenoir County.

Living to Serve grants support semester-long service-learning projects that address needs related to community safety; environmental responsibility; hunger, health and nutrition; and community engagement during the spring semester.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to apply these resources to project-based learning opportunities with students to assist our community in addressing the ongoing need to provide access to food, hygiene and literary resources,” Noble said.

Photo caption:

State Rep. Chris Humphrey, center, was at South Lenoir High School on Friday to announce the awarding of a $9,700 grant to the school’s FFA chapter for construction of an outdoor classroom. That grant, from the Outdoor Heritage NC Advisory Council, and another from the National FFA Organization brings to nearly $11,000 the chapter’s grant harvest for the month. On hand for the announcement were, from left, chapter member Berton Waters, teacher and FFA advisor Joseph Noble, Rep. Humphrey, teacher and FFA advisor Joshua Singleton and chapter member Brody Lynch.

Two high school boys in FFA jacks flank three male adults standing in front of a banner that reads South Lenoir High School.