Donations of money, materials help build new facility
By CAROL RYAN DUMAS
BURLEY, Idaho -- Spirits were high as school and community officials broke ground on a livestock education facility to serve agricultural students at Burley High School.
The building is needed to meet the growing needs of the school's burgeoning ag science and technology program. That program has grown from 167 students 10 years ago to 259 of the school's 800 students today, said Lex Godfrey, chairman of the school's ag science and technology department and FFA adviser.
The project is being paid for entirely through in-kind and monetary private and business donations, as well as the major donation of the steel building by R&M Steel of Caldwell, he said Feb. 20 at the groundbreaking.
"This is one of the biggest things to happen to Burley High School ag education in years," he said.
FFA's mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education, he said.
For students to be successful, they need qualified teachers, labs and equipment and classrooms. With the new livestock facility expanding the on-campus ag facility, they will have all they need, including essential hands-on learning experiences, he said.
"This facility provides further opportunity for our students and the community," he said.
The 60-by-150-foot building will be southwest of the current ag building and will hold an additional classroom, a science laboratory and an enclosed livestock working facility.
The facility will also allow the community to host livestock clinics, specialized breeding and marketing sales and youth training clinics, he said.
Cassia County School Superintendent Gaylen Smyer thanked the community and Rob and Nancy Roberts, owners of R&M, saying the building will help prepare students who represent the future of agriculture.
"This commitment is a tribute to our community," he said.
Asked a couple of times to say a few words, Rob Roberts simply said he is happy to be a part of the project.
He later told Capital Press that he is involved in agriculture to a small degree, running 125 cow-calf pairs and 265 yearlings in Indian Valley and the Owyhees.
Godfrey said the Roberts' donation of the steel building represents about $75,000 to $80,000, and through the challenges of making the building a reality Rob Roberts told him time and time again "find a way, and we will work for you."
In addition to existing donations, Pacific Steel and Recycling and the Burley Lions Club each presented a $10,000 donation to the Burley FFA chapter Tuesday evening to help fund the new ag building.
Leonard Beck, a member of the building committee for the project, said the community sees a vision for its youth and has followed a path to provide them opportunity.
"If our children are going to be educated, they need facilities," he said.
Efforts for the new ag building began in December 2011 and it is expected to be completed before the fall semester. The project needed to raise $200,000 and has secured about half that amount already through donations from individuals, Agri-Source, Zions Bank, Northwest Farm Credit Services, Landview, Pacific Steel and the Burley's Lions Club.
In-kind donations have come from Design Resources and Architecture, Magic Valley Sand and Gravel, Streamline Precision and Ralph Thornton Construction.
Funding is still needed in the "pay-as-you-go" project. Interested parties can contact Godfrey at (208) 878-6642.