One of America’s largest egg producers had some egg-citing news for Seymour High School agriculture students and teachers.

During the school’s annual FFA banquet Wednesday night, Rose Acre Farms in Seymour presented the ag department with a $50,000 donation.

That money will be used to purchase state-of-the art equipment for a food science lab and kitchen in the school’s new ag science and research facility on the school farm in Freeman Field.

The new food science lab will allow students to experience the curriculum of food chemistry, food safety and security, food product development and marketing through hands-on opportunities.

“We are very grateful to have a network of support in our community and look forward to utilizing the facility for not only academic programs but also for community education and outreach,” said Jeanna Eppley, the agriculture teacher and FFA adviser at Seymour High School.

After making the donation, Tony Wesner, chief operating officer for Rose Acre Farms, received much applause from students, parents, teachers, school board members and others attending the banquet at The Pines Evergreen Room in Seymour.

Wesner said the donation was a way for the company to show students and the community the importance of investing in the future of agriculture by supporting academic programs.

“Mr. Wesner and Rose Acre has been a great supporter of the agriculture program at Seymour High School for many years,” Eppley said.

After Wesner surprised the ag department with the donation, the department turned around and surprised him with an honorary chapter FFA degree.

He was nominated by the FFA members for his service on the school’s agriculture advisory board and for helping to coordinate and sponsor a grain safety training program hosted by the Seymour FFA chapter in 2016.

That training program led Seymour to win first place for the state Living to Serve Safety initiative and a $1,000 scholarship from DuPont Pioneer at the Indiana FFA 2017 state convention, Eppley said.

After receiving his honorary chapter degree, Wesner challenged the students to stay involved in agriculture and to make a difference in the world.

“With the ever-increasing population and the fact that we have people going to bed hungry every night, we need motivated people to take action and help to support food security,” Wesner said.

During a school board meeting Tuesday night, trustees approved a quote of $337,600 from T&G Construction Inc. of Bedford to finish the interior construction of the ag science and research facility.

That work will include outfitting the ag classroom, foods lab, welding lab and installing big fans and lockers in the ag shop area. At $142,000, the foods lab is the most expensive part of that work.

“Donations like the one from Rose Acre will help us furnish the building with equipment and supplies needed to offer a meaningful educational experience for our students,” Eppley said. “The students, teachers and administrators are excited to begin programs in the new facility.”

The interior of the building is expected to be completed this summer and will be ready for use by the beginning of the school year in August.

Construction of the $2 million facility got underway in January 2017 and was paid for through the corporation’s capital projects fund.

The project was delayed in 2016 because the only bid the corporation received was more than $1 million over budget and then was delayed further because of the additional cost to equip the facility.

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