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Groundbreaking held for new Honey Ridge Agricenter arena
Honey Ridge Agricenter Arena Groundbreaking
Effingham County School officials, school board members, agriculture teachers, FFA students, representatives from Dabbs-Williams contractors, community Honey Ridge Agricenter advisory board members and staff were on hand June 5 at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new arena. (Photos by Barbara Augsdorfer/Effingham Herald.)

By Barbara Augsdorfer, Editor for the Effingham Herald


Soon Effingham County students will have a new arena for showing farm animals.

Although the groundbreaking was delayed from January to June, Effingham County School Superintendent Dr. Yancy Ford hopes the building, “should be finished this school year.”

The $5.31 million project will be financed with Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) funds. The bid award is one of the items on the agenda for the June 7 school board meeting and is expected to be approved, according to Dr. Ford.

When finished, the new arena will be used by Effingham County students to train and show their livestock. Dr. Ford added the building will be “community- and student centered” and will also have room to host community events.

The Honey Ridge Agricenter has been a focal point of agriculture education in Effingham County since 2016. The district’s students are introduced to the farm and its importance at a young age. One of its annual events is a field trip by district first graders to the farm and all it can produce – plants, food, animals – said Benjamin Richardson, an agriculture teacher at South Effingham High School.

SEHS FFA Students
Members of the FFA from South Effingham High School were on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony June 5. From left, Emma Zimmeran, SEHS FFA vice president; Abbie Gay, SEHS FFA reporter; Jack Hemley, SEHS FFA treasurer; Sofia Piraino, and Emily Utrera, SEHS FFA president.
From that introduction, students can become involved with the National FFA Organization or 4-H, and choose an ag pathway in high school.

“Students can study plant science, agriculture, vet science, farm mechanics, natural resources, or forestry wildlife,” Richardson explained. From there, students often pursue careers and college degrees as varied from working at Georgia Ports to studying veterinary sciences.

“Effingham County Schools have a passion for agriculture,” said Todd Wall, CEO of Effingham College and Career Academy. Even if students don’t pursue a career in agriculture, Wall added, “Just understanding how important agriculture is, is key.”

Referring to the farm’s original owner, Sam Zemurray, Honey Ridge Advisory board member Mose Mock said, “Mr. Sam loved to see children learn – especially about nature.”