Stepping onto the campus of Wimauma Community Academy (WCA), one would find the same facilities as most any school in the country: classrooms filled with eager scholars, computer labs, a library, a cafeteria, a playground, soccer field and more. But what sets this school apart from others is found in a small section on campus grounds – a chicken coop!
Since 2020, chickens have been roaming the courtyard of the school, along with scholars, faculty and staff. Currently, the campus is home to three Silkie hens, a Silkie rooster, four mixed breed chickens, and a garden where the students grow a variety of vegetables. The scholars are stewards of the chicken coop and garden, and are responsible for the day-to-day chores, under the watchful eye of their teacher Charlotte Bethany. All of this activity prompted the academy to establish a chapter of the National Junior Grange.
The National Junior Grange encourages an understanding of agriculture in order to improve the communities where the children live and play. Junior Grange programs are designed to provide opportunities for young members to take on leadership roles and community service projects within their communities.
The RCMA Junior Grange Chapter focuses on agricultural education through hands-on learning in grades 5th-8th. Additionally, RCMA participates in both national and local Junior Grange competitions and community service projects. Scholars have applied their knowledge and leadership on trips to the Florida State Fair and the Washington DC Grange National Headquarters where they have spoken with senators on Capitol Hill regarding agricultural issues specific to Florida and their local communities.
Recently, three WCA scholars placed first, second and third in the 157th annual National Grange competition. Their teacher, Charlotte Bethany, received the 2023 National Grange Cultivator of the Year Award for her work with growing the WCA Junior Grange chapter. She is extremely dedicated to her students, and the scholars are very appreciative of her efforts.