Gorden leaves legacy via Meridian High School greenhouse


photo by Tina Noland

Roberta Gorden with members of the Meridian AgTech Foundation and Jerry Brockett’s Intro to Ag class by artist’s rendering.

by Breanna Evans, Reporter

On September 9, 2019, The Meridian AgTech Foundation announced that lifelong resident Roberta Gorden donated $59,000 for construction of the Roberta K. Gorden Greenhouse as part of the foundation’s plans for a new agriculture building at Meridian High School.

“I felt so, so hopeful. This community has already given a lot of support, but a building of that size comes with a cost, and it’s pretty high. But, when someone like her can give that much, it starts cutting down the costs and makes the future seem not so far away,” said Jerry Brockett, Ag teacher at Meridian High School.

Brockett thinks that the greenhouse will definitely have an effect on the program’s future. The greenhouse will provide students with hands-on knowledge, skill-building, fundraising, community gardens, plants sales, etc.

“There is so much able to come out of this thing, and being that much closer to the goal makes the future of the program really bright,” said Brockett. “I know that our Ag Foundation has been working tirelessly to find donations for us, and I think her being a familiar and prominent figure in the community was helpful.”

Gordon is a lifelong resident of Blue Mound and lives on the sesquicentennial farm her great, great-grandfather, William V. Gorden, settled in 1863. Five generations of her family has been involved in farming.

Gorden is passionate about agriculture and the job opportunities available in horticulture, animal science, technology and crop science, and many others.

“We have large companies such as ADM, Tate and Lyle, and Bayer, all ag-related businesses in our own backyard. There are so many job possibilities in our area,” Gorden explained to a classroom of Meridian High School agriculture students in a press release provided by The Meridian Ag Foundation.

There are many students invested in the Ag program, one of them being freshman Katelyn Martin. She joined the Intro to Ag class because she has always had an interest in Ag.

“My grandpa has always been a big part of me wanting to focus on agriculture,” said Martin. “I was very happy that someone is taking an interest in our Ag Program. The greenhouse will be a big part of the Ag Program”

Martin agrees with Brockett that this will definitely have an effect on the future of the program. “The upcoming students will have an opportunity to do more things in the class and have more hands-on learning,” said Martin.

“I am blessed that the hard work and toil of my ancestors allows me to be able to endow this greenhouse,” said Gorden in a press release provided by The Meridian Ag Foundation. “We live on some of the richest land in the world, and I am honored to be able to help further the cause of agriculture.”

The foundation has a goal to raise one million dollars to cover the $816,000 cost to construct a building that will house an agriculture shop, classroom, and greenhouse.

To learn more about how you can help, contact Pete Pistorius at [email protected] or 217-433-3752.  Checks should be made out to The Meridian Agriculture Foundation and mailed to 728 S. Wall Street, Macon, IL, 62544.