By David Knopf/Richmond News
It was just after 8:30 a.m., and Orrick FFA officers Jacob Jennings, Kendall Kelley and Hunter Guthrie were on the south side of the high school, rakes in hand.
It might’ve been early, but their AG teacher and advisor, Don Honeycutt, is no stranger to physical work, early days – or hands-on learning. A farmer himself, Honeycutt asked the boys to step up the tempo of their preparations.
“Keep haulin’,” he said, noting the gravel pile 10 feet from what would soon be Orrick’s new aquaponics greenhouse. “We’ve got to get this level because Roger (Mills) will soon be here with the concrete.”
Honeycutt was referring to the 9 a.m. arrival of the Mills Redimix truck, which would pour concrete that Honeycutt, his students and Gary Proffitt, a Camden builder, would spread among the forms that marked the foundation for the 36-foot by 20-foot foundation.
When complete, the project will have been funded by a $25,000 America Farmers Grow Rural Education program, a $6,000 matching grant from the Missouri Department of Education and local donations of money, time and materials.
“With all the support we’ve had from the community, a project like this is easy,” said Honeycutt, who became aware of the Farmers Grow grant and got local farmers and the school district involved.
“I recognized that there was an opportunity and got some of the farmers working on it,” he said. “I sent the grant off and six months later I found that we got it. It won’t pay for all of it, but it will go a long way.”
The project has already gone a long way in applying Honeycutt’s philosophy of hands-on teaching that prepares his students for making a living.
“We’re going to pour it ourselves,” said Honeycutt, as he and his students worked to level the gravel they were spreading. “All of the work you see here has been done by our AG classes.”