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Humble ISD hosts ground breaking to replace flood-prone Kingwood Ag Barn

Chron logo Chron 10/17/2020 By Savannah Mehrtens, Staff writer

After flood waters reached the edging of the building during Hurricane Harvey and other storms, the Kingwood Future Farmers of America (FFA) Agricultural Barn will be getting a completely new building thanks to funding provided from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The new North Agricultural Science Center is expected to open in the 2021-2022 school year, designed by Stantec. DT Construction, for which FEMA has allocated $8.8 million for construction. The new 29,000 square foot location will have space for more animals and will include a practice arena, teacher offices, restrooms, a designated turnout area, comprehensive security measures and expanded parking and will be within four miles from Kingwood and Kingwood Park high schools, according to a press release from Humble ISD.

It is composed of four buildings on 6.9 acres on Ford Road which together can hold 70 pigs, 70 goats or lambs, 20 poultry and rabbit pens, and 24 cattle, according to the press release.

The new facility is necessary because Humble ISD is home to over 1,400 students in agriculture courses, and many participate in the annual Humble LiveStock Show.

The current Kingwood Ag Barn is 20,400 square feet at and has a capacity for 56 pigs, 62 goats or lambs, 26 poultry, and 17 cattle according to a press release from Humble ISD. Across the district last year at the 73rd Humble ISD Auction, buyers bid $298,316 according to Humble ISD.

The northern agricultural barn is not the only site receiving attention. The southern ag barn will be adding a practice arena and more restrooms and office space. It serves Atascocita, Humble, and Summer Creek high schools.

U.S. Congressman Dan Crenshaw took a tour of the old Ag Barn on Friday after the groundbreaking of the new facility and heard from students who raise animals at the location.

“One of my big focuses is vocational training and this is a part of that,” Crenshaw said. “FFA programs are a great example of vocational training that works, teaches life skills, and supporting that any way we can is… a huge priority.”

Katelyn Spangler, a Kingwood Park High School senior, and Josie Johnston, a Kingwood High School sophomore, were able to speak with Crenshaw about what they have learned through the agriculture program in Humble ISD.

“It was so cool to be able to experience this and be able to speak to a Congressman like that’s a once in a lifetime type of thing,” Spangler said. “I’m honored. I just can’t believe it.”

Due to this year’s hurricane season and potential risk of flooding, Spangler said they had to push back their selection date which gives them less time with their animals for raising and preparing them for showing. When animals are evacuated, it prevents the students from taking them out for exercise which causes them to get restless.

Johnston said during Harvey, they had to move their animals over to the New Caney barns and the stress caused by the storm and moving on her brother’s steer caused it to get it’s head stuck under a fence and suffocated.

“Cause you bring them to one place and they live here, they don’t know anywhere else,” Johnston said. “And then there’s like thunder, there’s lightning, and then you like put them on a trailer and you take them to somewhere they’ve never seen, so it’s just like really stressful.”

Larkin Le Sueur, Humble ISD Career and Techincal Education Director, said the support for the agricultural program is “monumental” because it will support additional students in the new facility and it will provide increased safety for students and animals.

“Kids always surprise me. I think one of the biggest things that I learn is that I need to turn it over to them more often,” Le Sueur said. “They are wonderful leaders, we have wonderful students here in Humble ISD, and as educators, we can rely on them if we can just guide time in the right direction and so our two students today did that.”

savannah.mehrtens@chron.com

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