MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) – A large animal lab at Middletown High School received a donation on Monday, which could help shape the Future Farmers of America.

The Future Farmers of America at Middletown High School certainly learn by doing.  

Whether it be taking care of pregnant goats, growing produce and plants, or repairing machinery, members of the Mattabeset FFA Chapter have plans to expand. 

Students kicked off FFA week with a meeting and an assembly, which featured a special announcement from the Higganum Grange.

Gail Hanson, a member of the Grange and a former Middletown High School science teacher, told students that a more than $7,000 donation was being made in high school senior Amy Wiknik’s name. Wiknik is the president of the Mattabeset FFA Chapter at the school and the donation will help the school start its own land lab.

“I am extremely proud of Amy. She is the hardest working student probably that I ever had,” Hanson said.

The land lab would ideally be a 5-acre farm on city-owned land where the FFA members, who come from 17 towns, could get hands-on experience running a real farm.

“Having a club in school is difficult to get funding for and that will help tremendously,” Wiknik said. “We want to have our own laboratory and we actually want to have our own farm nearby.”

Wiknik grew up on a 120-acre farm in Higganum and hopes to follow in her father’s footsteps and someday own her own farm. But not everyone in FFA wants to be a future farmer. 

“Everyone can find their place in FFA,” said Wiknik. 

She said 90% of members go on to graduate college and move into their chosen careers.  

“Over 800,000 members in the United States so it’s so great to see so many kids expand their knowledge in agriculture and break off to different fields and [improve] their leadership skills as well,” Danni Syrotiak said. 

Syrotiak and Joseph Velky are FFA State Officers and were at the meeting to teach a program to students. FFA is a student-run organization. 

The hope is the donation will plant a seed, which will lead to more contributions so that plans for a land lab will grow.