The Vinton-Shellsburg Agricultural Advisory Committee has an exciting opportunity for you to be involved in as you show your support of educational programs at the Vinton-Shellsburg High School. We would like to share with you a NEW and EXCITING venture in our agricultural education program!

Vinton-Shellsburg FFA Chapter’s theme this year is “Why Dream it? Live It!” This is amazingly fitting as the agriculture department is in the process of having our department dreams come to life. What is our dream, you ask? Our dream is to ensure that strong agricultural learning opportunities continue for your students while we expand new opportunities. As we work to make our dream a reality for our students, the next logical step is to construct an Animal Learning Lab. This will allow students the opportunities to gain valuable, personal experiences with animals and learn in a more hands-on manner.

Our current agricultural program continues to teach traditional agricultural courses, but has also expanded to include new courses at the request of students, which has added great value to students’ learning. We are now serving over 150 students in our department’s classes; with many of these students taking multiple ag classes throughout the year.

The Animal Learning Lab has the potential to fill the void in our student’s education in the agricultural area. Currently, we have several areas of learning within our department: we have utilized the greenhouse for production of flowers and vegetables; we have the crop plot to demonstrate the crop production and marketing scenarios; there is a garden area for vegetable production; and we have incorporated over 20 ornamental and 5 production tanks into our Aquascience program. It is also not unusual for students to have rabbits or chickens in the greenhouse studying efficiency and productivity. The Animal Learning Lab facility has the potential to provide more than a textbook education as it expands to provide relevant situations for students to apply their learning within the animal learning strand of our curriculum.

In following our dream, the Animal Learning Lab would allow us to continue to meet the needs of all students through additional and unique experiential learning, which will both enhance our animal science and veterinary technician courses and allow our ag department to offer more courses and stronger experiences in animal production and technology. Our vision for the Animal Learning Lab includes the ability to provide hands-on instruction for horses, cattle, swine, sheep, poultry, and companion animals. We can enhance student-learning experiences with live animals and innovative technologies and equipment. Additionally, students will have a more appropriate learning space for non-traditional learning opportunities, including dissections of plants and animals, post-mortem evaluations, and other (messy) activities not appropriate for a traditional classroom. Our dream is for our students to have exposure to and develop a better understanding of animal practices. We know the Animal Learning Lab will be a positive step towards making that dream a reality.

Furthermore, the Animal Learning Lab will have the ability to serve as a second ag classroom that may eventually accommodate an additional teacher as the program continues to grow and evolve here at Vinton-Shellsburg High School. The facility will also be available for educational opportunities beyond V-S High School students, as it will be open to use for inter-school district events, 4-H and/or youth workshops, and community outreach programs like ISU Extension or commodity groups.

In order to “Live It” and not just “Dream It,” we need your support. We are soliciting support from all interested parties. Your contribution is important, regardless of its size. We are asking you to send your contribution to the Vinton-Shellsburg Community School District Foundation (Attn. Mike Barron, P.O. Box 640, Vinton, Iowa, 52349). Your pledge will demonstrate to others your commitment to a worthy project and that you “exert an influence in my home and community which will stand solid for my part in that inspiring task” (the final line of The FFA Creed). Thank you for assisting us to living our dream!

Please contact any member of the Agriculture Advisory committee if you have questions! Members include: Louise Fleming, Todd Wiley, Susie Henkle, John Holst, Cal Rickels, Mark Pingenot, Linda Fischer and Jim Huber.

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