$465,000 collected towards one million dollar ag building


photo by Wyatt Latham

Ag teacher, Jerry Brockett, shows Meridian Daily reporter the proposed ag building. Brockett started teaching at Meridian this year.

In 2019, Meridian High School launched a new AgTech program and FFA chapter for students. Fundraising for a new building and greenhouse for this program has started and hopes to reach a one million dollar goal.

“I mean we would like to have all the money up front to start, but if we knew we had enough cash and pledges to complete it, we would start in the upcoming year,” Duane Noland, Vice President of Fundraising said. “So I think best scenario by the end of 2020 but maybe it will be 2021; you just never know, it just depends on when those final dollars are committed.”

The new building will be built where the old garage sits on the Meridian High School campus. It will be a 4,800 square foot facility which will feature a state-of-the-art classroom, agriculture mechanics lab, and an automated greenhouse.

“We are putting it there because there’s not too terribly much space to put it, but those [sheds by baseball field] are old anyway and they are kind of out of time and out of commission,” Jerry Brockett, Ag teacher and FFA Advisor said.

The current buildings are functionable, but the new facility will offer more space, within a close walk to the school.

“It’s better than putting it all the way in the back, where we are away from everywhere,” Brockett said.

Meridian High School did not have an FFA before this year or an Ag Program and was the last school in Macon County to get one.

“We’re in a rural community so a lot of students are tied into ag someway, and a lot of people don’t know about some of the jobs ag gives and it [FFA] helps people get introduced into the ag business,” Austin Clark, President of Meridian FFA said.

The Foundation’s goal is to raise one million dollars for the building and inside the building there will be a classroom, open shop area and a greenhouse.

“The building will help the future students because they will have more things they can do with welding and plants, but it will just give us more things to learn,” Clark said.

The funding for the new AgTech building will come from donors because there are no private funds.

“We have, to date, about 125 donors from 25 dollars to one donor who’s going to fund the greenhouse, which costs $60,000 thousand and a lot of donations between one thousand and ten thousand dollars,” Noland said. “Really it’s [donations] anybody who has students in Meridian or anyone who likes the idea of bringing back technical vocational training, skilled traits kind of training, and then obviously anybody who is a tax payer in the Meridian school district should be excited about the opportunity for the students.”

If you would like to donate to the Meridian Ag Foundation, checks can be made out to the Meridian Ag Foundation and sent it to 728 S. Wall Street, Macon, IL. To find out more about the Ag Foundation visit their site.