The John Hardin High School FFA Chapter has received a $10,000 Agriculture Innovation Grant from the Kentucky FFA Foundation.
The funds will help the school complete the conversion of what is believed to be the first aquaponic/hydroponic STEM lab in Kentucky.
JHHS began a project in the fall to grow hydroponic bibb lettuce and pea shoot microgreens using a NFT Hydroponic System. Students are responsible for the day-to-day operation of the project. This includes planting, harvesting, marketing, processing, customer service, educational outreach and the building of partnerships. The JHHS cafeteria is purchasing the produce and serving it - as mixed salads or in other products - to the JHHS student body as a fresher food option.
Two aquaponic systems will raise additional lettuce crops, microgreens, watercress, peppers, tomatoes and tilapia fish. The tilapia will supply the nutrients for those crops in a self-sustaining closed-loop system.
“This grant allows us to convert our old shop and storage area into a fully functioning STEM lab,” Agriculture instructor and FFA Advisor Jeremy Hall said. “Our students will be able to stay on the cutting edge of new agriculture technology while working on various experiments and projects to hopefully take this technology to another level. Through all of this they will be providing food for our students and awareness for our community while learning valuable employability skills that will give them an advantage in the workplace.”
“We’re fortunate to have earned one of only two FFA Foundation grants this year,” Hall added. “Our students are working extremely hard on this project. I am grateful that the FFA Foundation saw that hard work and decided to provide this extremely valuable assistance to our program.”