Westview FFA Chapter Receives Grant

Westview FFA Chapter Receives Grant
Posted on 08/25/2022
2022-23 Westview FFA Chapter Officers

The Westview High School FFA has been awarded $5,000 as a part of the Grants for Growing program. The funds will be used for the materials and construction of a mobile solar power generation system.

Sponsored by Tractor Supply for nationwide FFA Chapters, Westview was one of fifteen organizations in the State selected as a recipient of the competitive grant. 

In partnership with UT Martin, Westview FFA will design and build the solar power system for communities in the region to use in the event of a disaster. The system is intended to act as a power source for emergency workers, communications teams, and volunteers to continue recovery efforts when connection to power has been disrupted.  

The idea to write the grant was inspired by the students’ desire to assist local response efforts following the tornado that devastated Dresden and other areas of the region on December 10, 2021.  

With many students directly affected by the storm, Westview FFA Advisor David Hochreiter said that his Ag Science class became interested in a lesson on renewable energy, power sources, and the importance of electricity in daily life. 

“After the tornado, electricity was understandably down in a lot of areas. Unfortunately, that’s when electricity was needed the most. First responders, communications teams, and volunteers could have really used another place to charge their tools and equipment for that challenging recovery work,” explained Hochreiter. “My students wanted to help and started working on ideas about a solar electrical system to use during an extended power outage. I knew about this grant, so I called our great partners at UT Martin to see if they could help us bring the project to life. Our students and team were thrilled to hear that our application was selected to receive the funding,” he said. 

Items that the grant funds will supply include solar panels, metal support frames, a trailer base, and a storage box to house the electrical components.  

The FFA will receive advisement on technical aspects of the project through the guidance of UT Martin Engineering Professors Dr. John Cole and Dr. Doug Sterrett. The group also plans to consult with the Tennessee Association of Agriculture Educators and the UT Extension Office on the project.  

Career and Technical Education Director Lindsey Parham noted that the award highlights the importance of local partnerships while providing students with cross-curricular learning. 

“The impacts of disastrous events like the tornado are heartbreaking, but our students never fail to see opportunity in the face of adversity. With the guidance of professors and our partnership with UT Martin, Westview High School students will get hands-on, real-world experience with learning about solar power systems, project management, budgeting, purchasing, inventory management, construction, and design,” said Parham.  

Assistant Director of Schools Betsi Foster is proud of both the students and the faculty. 

“Our teachers have an extremely full instructional schedule, and writing a grant takes extra time and effort. Our teachers never fail to go above and beyond the call of duty. We are proud of our students and faculty for their work on this heartfelt project that will benefit our communities as well as the region,” said Foster. 

The project will run in 4 phases that will encompass planning, implementation, and evaluation. The mobile power system is scheduled to be completed by July 2023.