Agriculture Science in the Inner City

Since the City of Houston is so urban, you might think that we don’t have strong Agriculture Science or FFA programs in our local schools.  Not so at all!

Agriculture science is Big Business in Texas.  According to the Texas Farm Bureau, 77% of the total land area of Texas is still involved in ag production.  In fact, Texas leads the nation in the number of farms, amount of land in farms, and the production of sheep and lambs, cattle and calves, goats, wool, mohair cotton and hay.  As a whole, an increasingly high-tech agriculture industry generates $81 billion a year for the State of Texas.

So despite our urban environment, our schools have very strong FFA (Future Farmers of America) programs for their agricultural science students.  Our two nearest high schools, Bellaire and Lamar, are a case in point.  Ag classes are available to all the students as electives.  The kids can raise smaller animals (such as the bunnies above) in their homes.  But they are prohibited by ordinance from keeping larger livestock within the city limits.  HISD therefore maintains a special Ag-Science Barn outside the city limits at Beltway 8 and W. Airport.  Larger animals such as steers, hogs, sheep and goats live at this barn.  Kids exhibit their animals around the state, including the San Antonio, Fort Worth, Houston, and Harris County Livestock Shows.  At these shows, the horticulture students also do a variety of presentations, including herb gardens, bonsai and floral arrangements.

But the kids are not just learning about “sows, plows, and cows”.  Every student is essentially an independent businessperson.  As such, they learn to budget, prioritize, and set goals. They develop leadership skills, while managing both time and money.   The most successful FFA kids earn college money by selling their livestock at local auctions.

So check out our student Live Stock shows – admission is free to the public, and the very active FFA Booster clubs will be selling delicious BBQ.  And you don’t have to buy an entire animal to contribute – you can always just “add on” to another bid.  And all of it helps the agriculture science kids.

Roger Martin