From driving their tractors to school to planting student-grown flowers and plants on St. Clair Street in downtown Frankfort, high school students in the Franklin County and Western Hills FFA programs were out in force Friday to raise awareness of the importance of agriculture in our community.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there were roughly 600 farms and nearly 1,000 farmers in Franklin County in 2017 — the most recent data available. Those farms bring in approximately $2 million annually.

Ten FCHS students and one staff member took part in Drive Your Tractor to School Day, which returned following a one-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It shows people how many are involved in agriculture, from the big-time farmer to the backyard farmer and everyone in between,” said Kylen Douglas, an agriculture teacher at FCHS, who called it the best day of the year.

Franklin County has participated in Drive Your Tractor to School Day for 13 years and is one of only about a dozen schools across Kentucky that takes part in the event.

Throughout the year both county high schools’ FFA chapters grew and cared for flowers and plants in their greenhouses. Last week, some of the greenery — such as sweet potato vine, asparagus fern and pansies — was transferred to the hanging baskets and bourbon barrels that beautify the St. Clair Mall. The remainder of the plants is being sold in the schools’ greenhouses.

It’s the second year that students have grown the plants that adorn downtown Frankfort. Previously, city and county governments, which split the cost of the flowers, would purchase the plants from vendors.

“I am always looking for ways to focus a spotlight on Franklin County,” said 1st District Magistrate Sherry Sebastian, who had the idea to let the students grow the plants. “In this instance, I thought what better way to show what our students can and are doing, so the effort has transitioned to a student-focused effort.”

We agree. Not only does having FFA members participate in the beautification benefit downtown; it also gives the students a sense of pride by turning what they have learned in the classroom into tangible skills for the real world.

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