A local farmer’s efforts to support his alma mater have resulted in a donation to Seymour High School’s agriculture department and FFA chapter.

Troy Hehman of Seymour recently earned $2,500 from the America’s Farmers Grow Communities program, funded by the Monsanto Foundation. That money will be used to purchase specialized ag science laboratory equipment for the high school.

Seymour ag teacher and FFA adviser Jeanna Eppley said the chapter is looking to purchase several LabQuest handheld computerized devices. The technology allows students to collect and analyze important data, including soil and water temperatures, pH and carbon dioxide levels and dissolved oxygen content, to determine outcomes and improve crop yield.

“Purchasing this equipment will allow us to provide tools to meet our rigorous curriculum needs,” Eppley said. “As agriculture has advanced, the need for scientists in agriculture fields has continued to grow.”

To further support that growth and the need for advanced training in agriculture, Seymour school board trustees and administrators continue to work to advance a project to build an agriculture-science research farm and education center on school-owned property in Freeman Field.

That $2 million project has been delayed because of lack of bids from contractors and cost. Engineers are reworking plans to try to get the work back within budget and expect to rebid it next month.

The LabQuest equipment also will allow FFA students to perform individualized research projects on various ag science-related issues, Eppley said.

“We want to create hands-on learning opportunities to spark the interest of students to pursue careers in science and specifically ag science,” she said.

Hehman serves on the Seymour Community School Corp.’s agriculture advisory board in support of the advancement of the ag program to best train students for careers in ag science.

He went on to study agriculture and business at Vincennes University and is owner of Troy Hehman Farms LLC in rural Seymour.

This is the sixth year for the America’s Farmers Grow Communities program. More than $22 million has been donated to more than 8,000 organizations across the country, according to a news release from the Monsanto Foundation.

The program is designed to allow farmers to support local nonprofit causes that positively impact farming communities across rural America.

Besides SHS, other schools in Jackson County to benefit from the grant program include Lutheran Central School in Brownstown and Trinity Lutheran High School in Seymour.

Farmers can direct the donations to nonprofit groups to help fight rural hunger, purchase life-saving fire and EMS equipment, support ag youth leadership programs and buy needed classroom resources.

The Monsanto Foundation also funds the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program, which provided $25,000 to Brownstown Central High School’s science department in late 2015, and the America’s Farmers Grow Ag Leaders scholarship program, which has provided scholarships to students at BCHS, SHS and Trinity.

On the Web

To find out more about the America’s Farmers community outreach grant programs and how to apply, visit www.AmericasFarmers.com.

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.