The Ferguson Grange, the Little Mountain Grange along with matching funds from the North Carolina State Grange, donated $1,000 to the WCC Animal Science Program Club that will be used for the Swine Production program. Frank Blevins, Animal Science/Horticulture instructor stated, “The donation will be put back into the swine program to be used for upgrading the facility as well as the watering and feeder system.”

In the spring 2019 semester, students conducted research on five pigs to determine the ratio of feed needed for each pound of weight gained. Students visited the farm five days a week checking on the water and feed for the pigs. The entire class visited weekly to weigh the pigs.

During the weekly visits to the farm, Zelotese Walsh, 95 of the Boomer community, visited with the students and shared his knowledge of swine production. Walsh was raised on a farm and was involved in swine production throughout his farming career. Tony Jones stated, “It’s been a wonderful project and has been beneficial to have someone with that type of knowledge to share with the students.”

Frank Blevins, WCC Animal Science instructor stated, “Tony Jones was instrumental in getting this project started. He not only donated the use of his family’s farm, he initiated the conversation with Bartlett Feed Company in Statesville, N.C. about purchasing the feed for the pigs. After discussing the project with Bartlett, they agreed to provide all the feed for the research project. In exchange, Bartlett will use the students research findings with their customers to demonstrate the nutritional factors of their feed.” Blevins added, “Representatives from Bartlett Feed came to the college and discussed immediate job openings with students as well as potential summer internships.”

Matthew Greene, Animal Science lead instructor stated, “From this project, we have made connections with the grange, local vendors for pigs, as well as industry partners. Working with the live animals has shown what the college can do to create future opportunities for the students.”

Jimmy Gentry, President of NC Grange stated, “The grange is the oldest agriculture organization in the nation. We have always been supportive of agriculture education and are pleased that this donation is a three-way partnership between the Little Mountain Grange, Ferguson Grange, and the N.C. State Grange. I am impressed with what is happening here at Wilkes Community College and the plans for the future.”

The Ferguson Grange was chartered in 1932, making it 87 years old and has a current membership of 30 individuals. Members of the Ferguson Grange are residents of Caldwell and Wilkes Counties.

The Little Mountain Grange was chartered in 1929, making it 90 years old, with a current membership of 51 individuals. Members of the Little Mountain Grange are residents of four counties, Wilkes, Surry, Yadkin, and Forsyth.

The North Carolina Grange was officially recognized in 1875 but hit its stride after re-organizing in 1929. The war was over, the Depression had ended, and our state’s isolated farm families needed a place to come together. Through local events, education, renewed community spirit, and the encouragement to be more tolerant of others with different political and religious beliefs, the Grange helped neighbors and communities come together. People received help getting on their feet through training and cooperative buying and selling among members. When schools needed help, the Grange stepped in there too. In some cases, even running them. Our members were instrumental in the development of 4-H and Future Farmers of America and worked to ensure North Carolina’s farming communities would emerge stronger than ever.

Animal science is the science and business of producing livestock such as beef cattle, dairy cattle, horses, poultry, sheep, goats, swine, and other careers related to the animal science industry. The Applied Animal Science Technology program at Wilkes Community College gives students the foundation they need to begin a career in the animal science industry.

Zelotese Walsh with students at the Jones Farm.