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Federal funds secured for rennovations to educational space at State Fair

Incoming federal funds from the proposed budget could mean new opportunities for Delaware’s students in agriculture.


Thousands of Delaware students take part in programs with FFA (Formerly Future Farmers of America) and 4-H, learning everything from training and showing livestock to public speaking and STEM skills.


And Rep. Lisa Blunt-Rochester visited the Delaware State Fair Friday to highlight a big win for Delaware agriculture in next year’s federal budget proposal.


It includes $900,000 to build a brand new exhibition hall at the fair, replacing the aging New Castle building. This new space would be able to not only host animals during the State Fair, but become a valuable space for programs like FFA and 4-H year round.

Credit Roman Battaglia / Delaware Public Media
Delaware Public Media
The old building has very low ceilings and poor ventilation, making it get very hot in the summer. The new design would be much higher, fully enclosed and include greater ventilation to keep it cool in the summer and heating for the winter.


Kendall Metz is the state president of the Delaware FFA. She says it’s difficult to find a place to host thousands of FFA students for leadership conferences or state conventions.


“So having a public place at the fair here is vital for us to be able to run as an organization cause we’re always looking for those spots for these students to interact with each other and really gain this leadership experience,” Metz says.


Blunt-Rochester adds organizations like FFA are a very important tool for youth violence prevention, and help provide a place for kids to go and not only learn about agriculture, but develop skills they can use in any future career.


“Folks are looking for alternatives, they’re looking at ways to prevent violence in the first place and also to break the cycle — and really to just uplift people in this present moment,” she says. “This is a time where we’re coming through a pandemic and people also need hope and they need things to go to as we come out of it.”


And the new building won’t be just a space for agriculture students — the state fair will be able to rent out the space year-round for other community events.


Blunt-Rochester says lawmakers will be voting on the budget in the House this week, and hoping it passes quickly through the Senate.


Roman Battaglia is a corps member withReport for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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