Mount Pleasant FFA
Katie Cauthen has always had a deep bond with animal agriculture, one that stretches back to her days as an FFA member at Mt. Pleasant High School (MPHS) in North Carolina. Today, she shares that zeal with the next generation of MPHS students, as one of the school’s agriculture teachers.
“I have a passion for animal agriculture, and seeing that passion ignite in my students is one of the greatest feelings one can have,” she says.
The school-owned livestock barn and pasture facilities aid her on that quest. They enable students to gain hands-on experience with all aspects of animal nutrition and care. Moreover, the recently added FFA livestock show team exclusively exhibiting animals bred and raised on the school campus. This provides one more element of learning – and fun – to the MPHS ag program.
“Our animal science program is built on hard work, determination, a passion for animals, and empathy towards all living things,” she emphasizes. Along the way, students build communication and leadership skills, all while developing bonds with their show team animals.
“There is no denying the incredible connection that forms between people and animals,” Katie adds. “Working with animals can drive an individual to act with determination, live every day with a more positive outlook, and walk through life with empathy towards others.”
Mount Pleasant FFA
The Mount Pleasant FFA program has a rich history, providing students with hands-on experiences caring for livestock and learning critical farm management practices. Along with way, students build leadership and communications skills, and become advocates for animal agriculture.
Former student Elisabeth Swinson says the program helped her uncover her true passion for animals. “I always knew I wanted to be a veterinarian, but I’d never actually been around animals,” she explains. Now a freshman at North Carolina State University, Elisabeth says her time with MP FFA, caring for the school’s goats, sheep and cattle, solidified her career choice.
Her sentiments are echoed by other students enrolled in the program. Recent graduate Brianna Colosi credits the program with sharpening her study habits, strengthening her team-building skills, and providing countless leadership opportunities.
Now, thanks to Nutrena’s Feed it Forward grant, the students at Mount Pleasant are updating pasture fencing, enabling them to implement a rotational pasture grazing system that will serve as model for the community. The group plans to partner with local county extension agents to hold monthly Small Ruminant Producers meetings, where students can demonstrate pasture rotation plans, forage management, and sheep and goat handling.
“Not every school program is lucky enough to have the opportunity to walk outside their classroom and see real-world examples of what they’re learning,” says Shelby Mabe, the current president of the FFA chapter. “At Mount Pleasant, the animal science program and the FFA chapter work together to help students grow and find their passions.”