COVINGTON, Ga. - Newton College and Career Academy FFA students had an a-maize-ing time when they partnered with Jacob Pope, local farmer, to harvest an estimated two acres of corn, planted on an old baseball field located at NCCA, Wednesday, Sept. 25.
The harvesting of the corn, which took roughly 25 minutes, was done with a large John Deere harvester driven by the FFA students.
NCCA Agriculture Education Teacher Marcus Pollard kick-started the corn harvest Spring 2019 when his students planted the corn on the old baseball field to celebrate Newton County history.
"The significance is that in 1903-1904, the Georgia legislature requested that public schools start to teach agricultural education," he said. "No one knew how to do it. There was a college professor at Oxford College that convinced the then-school commissioner to do what some of the mid-western states were doing - that was to implement the idea of a Corn Club. Kids grew corn at their homes and competed against each other with who had the 20 heaviest ears of corn."
Newton County was the first county to do it, and then it took off across the state, even having county champions presented at the state fair in the state-wide contest. Historians refer to this action being the founding of the 4-H program that we know today. While that is the case, it also led to what is known as the Supervised Agricultural Experience in FFA too."
NCCA FFA students had the opportunity to compete against each other with who had the 20 heaviest ears of corn harvested from the field. One by one, groups of students took turns weighing their corn in a large orange bucket, watching the scale with excitement.
The heaviest 20 ears of corn weighed 12.5 pounds.
The world needs more young farmers, according to Pope. He recalled attending a retirement party where he was the only young farmer in the room.
"We definitely need more young farmers to take over because eventually as the older generation dies off, there's not going to be a whole lot much more," he said.
He added, "Agriculture in whole is important. You need to be able to feed the world. It requires a lot of work and know-how to be able to make the soil produce as much as it can produce. It really takes someone who has the ability and who has the drive to make it all work."
After the corn was harvested, Pope took the corn to a local feed meal in Eatonton.
The money raised from the harvested corn will reinvested into the program, according to Pollard.