Manatee County's rich agricultural heritage earned another page in the region's history book this week. The crowning of Lincoln Middle School's Future Farmers of American Chapter as one of the country's top five agricultural science middle school programs by the national FFA organization is quite the honor.
Now Lincoln moves on in October to compete against the other top four schools for bragging rights as No. 1.
We hope they bring home the bacon.
Lincoln agriculture instructor Kimberly Lough must be proud of her charges -- youngsters learning the ropes on raising livestock for fair competitions, tending to urban gardens, maintaining a greenhouse and, best of all, learning to be responsible.
Manatee County is home to some 313,000 acres of agricultural production land and about 795 farms. Tomatos and citrus, poultry and cattle, and dairies and nurseries are part of a vital industry that place Manatee seventh among Florida's 67 counties for agribusiness sales.
Crop exports yield $184 million annually, and the industry's overall economic impact on the county is estimated at $646 million.
Should Lincoln's FFA students remain committed to agriculture, there should be plenty of career opportunities here.
The trend toward the consumption of locally grown foodstuffs has been growing for several years now and shows no signs of slowing down. The students get to enjoy the fruits of their endeavors, too, by dining on the fresh food they grew.
As an evangelist for urban gardens and healthy food choices, wouldn't first lady Michelle Obama be pleased!
Lincoln will compete against FFA chapters at two other Florida schools and two in Virginia with each producing a 10-minute presentation to wow the judges in Louisville, Ky., Oct. 30-31.
Kudos for Lincoln's FFA and Kimberly Lough for earning a finalist berth.