AgriScience Center a hub for ag education, more

  • Sunshots from file - The Hart County AgriScience Center is packed with spectators as young children take to the show floor at the Lake Hartwell Pig Classic earlier this month. Below, Rachel Mize, left, and Ava Carnes, work together to prepare Carnes’ pig Eugene for competition at the Lake Hartwell Pig Classic.
    Sunshots from file - The Hart County AgriScience Center is packed with spectators as young children take to the show floor at the Lake Hartwell Pig Classic earlier this month. Below, Rachel Mize, left, and Ava Carnes, work together to prepare Carnes’ pig Eugene for competition at the Lake Hartwell Pig Classic.
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The sound of oinking pigs could be heard throughout the Hart County AgriScience Center on Dec. 7 as children ranging from kindergarteners to high schoolers cared for and showed off some of the finest swine in the state.
It was the weekend of the third annual Lake Hartwell Pig Classic, but it was certainly not a rare occasion. In the weeks prior, two heifer shows brought young folks from around Georgia to show their cows. Other events in the months earlier brought a variety of community groups and organizations for meetings, luncheons and seminars to the center.
That was the vision for the AgriScience Center that, since completed in 2017, has become well known a sought after agricultural facility in Georgia.
Josh Cabe of Franklin County said as much while helping his child tend to a pig.
“This is one of the nicest facilities in the state,” Cabe said at the pig show.
His is an opinion shared by Hart County FFA students Ava Carnes and Rachel Mize. They teamed up to give Carnes’ pig, Eugene, a haircut before taking to the ring for a showmanship competition.
The pair said they enjoy being a part of FFA because it is like a family and because they get to meet a lot of new people. They also get to travel around the state and the Southeast showing their livestock.
“This one (the AgriScience Center) isn’t the biggest, but it’s the nicest,” Carnes said.
That is what Hart County Charter System Superintendent Jay Floyd had hoped to hear after pushing, sometimes against adversity, to build the center.
“We’re very fortunate to have something like this,” Floyd said. “We have people from Bainbridge and Cairo, from as far as they can come in this state, and they keep coming back.”
Those trips are mostly to events like the Pig Classic, which draws a truly statewide competitive field.
“I am so grateful we have such great teachers in our FFA program,” Floyd said. “They have been the spark plug to see it used as it was intended.”
But he is quick to note that the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, classroom at the center is an asset for teachers in the school system and that the banquet space and full kitchen make a great location for meetings like the regional tourism roundtable that was held in October.
“We’re not keyed into just one type of event,” Floyd said.
That is what makes the AgriScience Center a one of a kind place, he added.
Agriculture has long been the No. 1 industry in Hart County, but Floyd said he and the board of education knew the building would work best if it could serve multiple purposes. That would mean the center could be used for more than just things like weekend heifer and pig shows.
“The board wants the community to take advantage of it,” Floyd said.
Now, especially when a livestock show is in town, parking is at a premium.
“It’s a good problem to have to have to research how we can find a way to make more parking places,” Floyd said.