Changes at Italy High School’s Ag Barn

Image: Breyanna Beets keeps her pig clean and brushed for the upcoming show in March 2013.

Breyanna Beets keeps her pig clean and brushed for the upcoming show in March 2013. (Anne Sutherland)

New Italy FFA teacher, Blake Godwin, has brought a fresh perspective to the Ag department and it is evident at the old/new Ag Barn on Hwy 667.

The original Ag Barn was built in 1977 utilizing the FFA students. It was a summer project using existing materials, only purchasing 150’ of material. Murrie Wainscott, former Ag teacher at IHS, “I am very impressed with Mr. Godwin’s achievements. He is doing a great job. I hope the school board and the community continues to support and fund the program.” Mr. Wainscott was very knowledgeable with the history of the Ag barn. He was a veteran teacher at IHS from 1974-2004.

“The weeds covered up and had grown over the barn stalls when I saw it for the first time this summer,” Blake said. “I didn’t even know the stalls were there until I started cutting the weeds and trees down. I was surprised to see them.” He used a machete and a tractor.

“With the help of some of the students, there has been some new construction,” Mr. Godwin explained. As Godwin highlighted the new areas in the revamped facility, he explained the students have a big hand in the large undertaking. “The students from Ag 101 helped build the new ‘pig houses’. This took about 3 days.” The big cubicles located inside each pen keep the swine warm and dry during the winter weather. The roof was replaced and extended by local resident Ken Cate, just in time for cold weather.

Italy’s FFA built new pens, poured concrete, changed the waterers and plumbing. Using his existing resources wisely, Mr. Godwin had the welding class build the pens from wire panels left over from last year and the Livestock Production class plan them. “The next project for these groups will be designing and building goat houses.”

Mr. Godwin considers this an ongoing project. There will be a new water system, walking area for the animals with pens and gates, a new entrance door, lights around the whole barn, cutting down trees and new fences around the property. Count on new electrical and a new feed room built near the barn. Not planning on doing this alone, Blake will insist the students work one weekend a month to help with the project.

Special thanks goes to Sal Ramirez and Horizon Plumbing for donating the supplies for the new waterers that water the animals in the stalls and Threet Pallet from Ennis for donating wood shavings for the animals to have in their stalls. Special thanks goes to IHS maintenance department. “They helped quite a bit,” Godwin explained.

The students are getting their animals ready for the next local Expo, which will be March 25-31, 2013 located at the Expo Barn in Waxahachie. Mr. Godwin said, “I have 21 students, four are from Junior FFA, showing animals in the spring. I believe we have about 20 good pigs (purchased from Illinois, West Texas, Oklahoma and North Texas). Others will be showing chickens, rabbits and steers. But the fact is you never really know how they will do until that day,” Godwin explained. “The kids are doing a great job and you can see they are learning.”

The students include:
Ty Windham
Brandon Connor
Kyle Fortenberry
Breyanna Beets
Marcus Surles
Noah Ramirez
Brooke Miller
Britney Chambers
Tanner Chambers
Cassidy Childers
Aaron Pittmon
Austin Pittmon
Blake Vega
Brandon Jacinto
Reagan Cockerham
Morgan Cockerham
Bailey Eubank
Justin Wood
Brooke Deborde
Taylor Turner
Paige Little

Blake Godwin wants Italy High School FFA students to learn and be an effective, positive influence in the community. You can see the eagerness in his eyes when talks about the upcoming plans for the barn and in the classroom. A little hard work and sweat never hurt anyone and he explains, “This is all for the kids.”

Principal, Lee Joffre, commented, “Mr. Godwin and the FFA students have worked hard to improve the Ag Barn. I look forward to seeing the benefits of their work during show season.”