- Clifton Park Elementary School
Community Mayors Tour Career Center Agriculture Barn
Killeen ISD agriculture students are proud of their program – proud of the animals they raise, the awesome barn facilities at the Career Center and the real-life experience they are getting in high school.
The students are so proud that the FFA chapter at Ellison High School initiated a mayors’ tour of the barn, which all five district chapters share, of the agriculture center behind the Career Center.
Killeen Mayor Debbie Nash-King, Nolanville Mayor Andy Williams and Nolanville City Manager Kara Escajeda participated Thursday in a tour of the facility where students care for and practice showing their livestock.
They also toured a greenhouse where students care for plants through Career and Technical Education horticulture classes.
Ellison agriculture teacher Jasmina Gutierrez and EHS FFA President Janiyah Jackson said they wanted to share their love of agriculture and showoff the work happening here in Killeen.
The community leaders, along with Career Center Principal Elizabeth Cunningham, KISD Chief College, Career and Military Readiness Officer Nancy Patterson and other staff and students participated.
In the barn, guests talked with students about cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, rabbits and turkeys they are raising. They discussed the daily care and the intricacies of showing the various animals.
Leaders saw students practicing their showmanship with pigs in the show ring. They also saw a new set of exercise equipment that helps keep the livestock fit. They saw the poultry rooms, 16 swine pens and 42 sheep and goat pens, as well as the small barn with cattle pens and additional poultry space.
“I think it went really well,” said Gutierrez. “Our kids did so wonderful. I’m really proud of them. They are working on those speaking skills. That’s really what FFA is – they work on their leadership skills, their communications skills.”
“I thought it was amazing,” said Jackson. “I was really excited. We’ve been working since September on this. I wanted everything to be perfect and I thought it was perfect.”
“I wanted them to know what FFA and agriculture does together,” she said.
“It’s not just farming and animals. It’s so many other things. They got to see the gorgeous plants. It’s not just corn and wheat. They saw plants that they would see in other states.”
The Ellison chapter is working on becoming a nationally recognized FFA chapter.
The chapter president said she wanted community leaders to see the high caliber of education they are receiving in Killeen and understand that their field is broad and includes a high level of academic and technical understanding.
Career Center senior Deion Thomas is president of the Cen-Tex FFA District, encompassing all of KISD and surrounding areas.
He said his time raising animals and taking part in FFA has taught him a high level of discipline. He currently feeds his sheep and goats twice a day, including weekends and holidays.
Thomas said he has learned leadership and confidence far beyond what he would get exclusively in the classroom.
Senior Reyana Molina also raises animals as an FFA member and agriculture student, but her passion, she made clear, is raising plants.
She led a tour of the Career Center greenhouse.
“The main focus of today was to show the community what we do at the Career Center. We have so many developing programs. Also, to help promote the Career Center,” she said.
Working with plants and animals is not what many people assume.
“A lot of people look at FFA and think farm people, not for me, I live in Killeen, I don’t know about animals,” she said.
The truth is, said Molina, most students enter agriculture with little knowledge of how to care for animals, but they learn and grow as a result.
“We wanted to show our development, how we’re helping the community,” she said. This spring, students will grow fruits and vegetables to donate to local food pantries.
“A big thing is showing what we’re doing and our impact on the community. That’s a main focus of FFA, not only self-satisfaction in what you’re doing, but giving back to the people who help you get there.”