Piggott FFA Recipient of TSC Grant for Growing

Thursday, April 20, 2017
Some of the Piggott High School FFA chapter members who worked on the grant project show-off the symbollic check Tuesday morning. Pictured are, from left: Ally Kilbreath, Baylor Burkman, Trey Gossett, Hannah Powell and Katelyn Jackson.(TD photo/Tim Blair)

Recently, the Piggott High School FFA chapter was informed they have been approved for a $1,000 grant in the Tractor Supply Company's Grant for Growing program. Dubbed, “will the cow cross the road?” the grant will be used to fund an experimental effort to determine what gradient a cow will cross in relation to cattle crossing guards.

“This is great, there was only about $9,500 available to chapters in the state of Arkansas and most got only small amounts,” Chapter Adviser Casey Simpson explained. “We were one of only three chapters to get $1,000 in the state, and that was pretty cool.”

The effort is a joint program between Tractor Supply Company (TSC) and the National FFA Foundation, and the grant approval letter noted the PHS application was one of the best.

“This grant will fund an experiment to see what gradient a cow will cross,” the grant application noted. “For this experiment we will test to see if a cow will cross a cattle-guard, horizontal lines and a solid black surface.”

Using the information gathered the students will then test their hypothesis and record data based on what gradient cows will actually cross.

“The first gradient will be a concrete cattle guard that we make using forms sold at TSC,” Simpson added. “The students will be in charge of determining how much concrete the form will require, and actually pouring the concrete—which is slowly becoming a lost art.”

The second gradient will be a black mat, also acquired at TSC, with horizontal lines painted on it to simulate the crossing guard. And, the final scenario will be just a black mat, to determine how the cows react.

“We will also be purchasing cattle panels to direct the cows to the gradients to test our hypothesis,” Simpson added. “This will allow the students to collect the data which will determine if a cow will cross the road.”

The experiments will be carried out at the FFA chapter's animal science facility, located at the fairgrounds. Simpson also noted the concrete forms were re-usable, allowing the chapter the chance in the future to build additional crossings which will be offered for sale.

The grant application also outlined the benefits of the class experiences and hands-on skills, which will help students better understand the particulars of livestock handling techniques. It also noted the data will be used in future efforts, giving the students a chance to utilize a number of designs and variations.

“We plan to begin the experiments in the fall, it's too late in the year to start now,” Simpson explained. “I have also applied for a number of other grants, and hope to have more good news on that in the weeks to come.”

TSC reported Arkansas FFA chapters requested over $80,000 in grant funds for projects during the application period, with $9,508 approved—including the $1,000 for the PHS chapter.

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