When it comes to putting on the Franklin County Agricultural Fair, Director of Tourism David Rotenizer said, “It may not take a village in this case, but rather a county public school system.”
For the fair’s sixth year, agricultural and career and technical education students from Franklin County High School will again have the opportunity for leadership development and community involvement by serving as fair volunteers. Their main task is to guide and teach hundreds of elementary school students.
Retired FCHS agriculture teacher Diane Cannaday heads up the fair’s educational programs.
“It is so rewarding to see the faces on the young children as they are being taught by the teenagers,” Cannaday said.
The fair will be held Sept. 18 through 21 at the Franklin County Recreation Park in Rocky Mount. First, third and fifth grade students will attend the fair during the weekdays and rotate among a variety of educational stations.
The agriculture students who are members of Future Farmers of America will talk with the younger students about dairy and beef cattle, horses, pigs, chickens and crops. There will also be a petting zoo, antique tractors, a mobile dairy class, an agri-zoo, a cowboy circus, a timber (lumberjack) show, pig races and a barnyard review.
“The teenagers really take responsibility and step up in their roles,” Cannaday said.
The career and technical students will have six stations — masonry, carpentry, HVAC, electricity, auto body repair and automotive technician. These students are part of SkillsUSA, which develops students’ technical and leadership skills. During the day they’ll give demonstrations and facilitate hands-on activities. In the evenings the students will have mini competitions in their fields.
Masonry instructor Travis Sigmon said he appreciates the opportunity for his students to be involved with the fair.
“It lets students see their leadership is valuable,” Sigmon said. “They love seeing the little kids trying to learn, too.”
He added it also helps his students prepare for upcoming SkillsUSA competitions.
Robbie Dooley, West Campus Administrator and Supervisor of Career and Technical Education for FCHS, said students take great pride in participating in the fair.
“It gives them an opportunity to share the skills they’ve learned with elementary students,” Dooley said. “The high school students enjoy talking to the younger students about the programs they’re representing, and it encourages them to participate when they get to high school.”
Middle school students will also have a part in the fair. New Tech at Gereau will display barn quilts from the Quilted Trail project and an environmental program at the Gereau Center will present information regarding endangered plant species awareness associated with the Bald Knob preserve.
Opening ceremonies for the fair will be held Wednesday, Sept. 18 at 4:45 p.m. featuring Brenda Muse, K-12 director of curriculum and instruction for Franklin County Public Schools, and a lineup of high school participants, including the high school’s JROTC students, band and choir members and FFA students. The recently crowned Miss Franklin County Agricultural Fair and her court will attend as well.
Cannaday said SkillsUSA and FFA are a great fit for the fair as students from both organizations can develop leadership skills and increase their involvement with the community.
Jean Capps, agriculture teacher and FFA sponsor at FCHS, echoes Cannaday’s sentiments saying her students’ involvement with the fair helps them to develop their leadership skills and gives them opportunities to talk with people and to build confidence.
There are 11 agricultural classes offered at FCHS, including wildlife and natural resources, equine and horticulture.
FFA member and FCHS senior Ethan Meade said he plans to help again this year by guiding a class around for the day and then to help out with the animals.
Tyler Agee, a senior at FCHS, is taking classes in HVAC and electricity. He said there is a real need for young people with trade skills as many workers are now retiring. Being involved in the fair is a way to promote trades, he said.
“It connects you with the community and shows you don’t have to do four years of college,” Agee said.
Cannaday and the FCHS teachers said they are grateful to the sponsors, adding the help from local farmers and businesses makes the fair such a positive experience for students and the community.
Rotenizer said he is pleased to have Franklin County Public Schools partnering with the Franklin County Agricultural Fair.
“Public school involvement with the agricultural fair is an intangible added value to the curriculum – for those students who participate or for those who simply attend,” he said.
For more information about the fair, visit www.fcagfair.com.