Texas agriculture students have successfully assisted West schools restore what was lost in the April 17 fertilizer plant blast that destroyed much of the school district's classroom facilities.
The West I.S.D. agricultural education building dedication was held Tuesday, January 14 at 11 a.m. There is now a steel building standing on-site where West's intermediate school once stood.
The campaign for West FFA began in August when members of the Texas FFA learned their fellow members in West would be consigned to portable buildings with nowhere to partake in the hands-on aspect of the program.
Dr. Marty Crawford, superintendent of West ISD, released a statement reading, “West ISD has been so fortunate to have many friends assist in our recovery during our rise from the challenge of the April 17. One of those friends throughout has been the Texas FFA, who courageously took an aggressive role in procuring funding and in-kind donations for the purpose of erecting a facility for hands on instruction for use by West ISD agriculture education students.”
Texas citizens donated and worked to raise money to provide a place for West agricultural education students to develop technical skills in construction and mechanics. Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Todd Staples reached out to Kevin Maxwell, a construction company owner, who found a sympathetic audience with Rigid-Global, a Houston-based building manufacturer who provided a heavily discounted steel building to the cause. Five Texas livestock shows, recruited by Justin Boots CEO Randy Watson, along with numerous other agriculture groups pitched in. Big Tex Trailers gave a trailer to be raffled by the FFA alumni and thousands of Texas FFA members washed cars, held dinners and took up collections to raise more than $130,000 in cash.
The combination of cash and in-kind donations totaled about $200,000. Now there is a brand new building standing where the smoldering wreckage of the town's intermediate school once stood.
"It is a clear demonstration of the power of a community," said Texas FFA Executive Director Tom Maynard. "Everyone pulled together and gave a little; the results are breathtaking."
When it became evident that students would lose an important component of their education without an agriculture education facility, the Texas FFA decided to act quickly.
"When it comes to education, we must always move with a sense of urgency," Maynard said. "For each of these students, the clock is ticking. Windows of opportunity close. They don't get back time that is lost in their education."