The Kentucky FFA Foundation awarded the agriculture program at South Warren High School a $5,000 grant to help create a state-of-the-art small engine training laboratory.

SWHS agriculture teacher Thomas Poole not only uses his small engines classes to teach science concepts like the Venturi principle and displacement, but to introduce and prepare students for potential careers.

“Bowling Green is a huge industry community,” he said. “We’ve got tons of mechanic shops, plus really big companies like Holley and Wright Implement. If students learn the basics of how engines work in my class, they will be more equipped to go out and join a trade or get more education.”

Poole is setting up his laboratory to give students a taste of what it might be like to actually have a career involving engines.

“I recently bought 10 new tool carts for the shop,” he said. “In my class I usually split students into groups of three. Normally we have only a few specialty tools, and sometimes every student in the class is waiting on the same tool. Thanks to this grant, I’ve been able to outfit each new cart with all the tools each group needs. Every group will keep their tool cart the entire semester. They are accountable for the care and maintenance of all those tools, just like they would be in any shop. It gives them a sense of ownership and helps their motivation to participate.”

Every student in Poole’s small engines class will receive an industry certification in small engines from the Engine and Equipment Training Council.

“One of the many things that makes agricultural education and FFA so special is that it’s all about learning by doing,” said Sheldon McKinney, executive director of the Kentucky FFA Foundation.

Funding for Ag Achiever grants comes from $10 donations farm license plate holders can choose to give when they renew their tags, as well as from a donation by Universal Leaf.

“Children are the future of agriculture, and by partnering with programs such as Kentucky FFA’s Ag Achiever grant, we are all working toward the common goal of developing strong leaders who will understand the importance of agriculture and its role in the global economy,” said Lindsay Efird, Universal Leaf representative.

Kentucky FFA Foundation initiatives impact more than 14,000 FFA members in 158 FFA chapters.