School Farm Improvements: New Hog Facility – By teacher Jessica Johnson
Walla Walla High School has a unique feature: a seven acre on-campus ‘school farm’. The property located on the west end of campus is available for students enrolled in Agriculture Education classes. Students utilize the farm to complete Supervised Agriculture (SAE) Projects and for class activities. The school farm predates the original high school and has been a fixture of the Agriculture Education program for countless students.
Although the school farm has value beyond measure, there has not been a substantial investment into the property in many years. With the shutdown of schools in the spring of 2020 due to COVID-19, an opportunity arose to make improvements to the school farm. The team of Ag teachers (Jessica Johnson, Arch McHie, Erin Peek and Peggy Payne) along with Mike Kay and Jerry Maher, completed a needs assessment of the school farm facilities and buildings. The team developed a five-year plan of projects to complete with the ultimate goal of providing more opportunities for students.
The first item on the five-year plan was building a new facility to raise market hogs for student SAE projects. The old facility did not provide enough space for hogs and there also were issues with drainage and general access for students. The team determined that a pole building with open sides and a concrete floor would be ideal as the floor would be easy to keep clean and optimal ventilation would be allowed in the hot summer months.
With Mr. Kay’s help, a 40’ x 80’ pole building was designed and built by local contracting company S & K Mountain Construction. Jessica Johnson communicated the Ag Team’s plan with Noble Panels, a local company which specializes in livestock fencing, buildings and supplies. Jessica worked with designer Grayson Ingersoll to create a design for the new hog barn which features eight 15’ x 15’ growing hog pens, five 5’ x 5’ wash pens and three 5’ x 10’ holding pens. In addition, Jessica worked with Michele Lyons at Bordertown Feed and Supply to purchase new feeders for the barn. The new facility will house up to 24 hogs.