Jacob Loudy, a senior at Hagerstown Jr.-Sr. High School and a member of the agriculture mechanics class, inspects an old well that is located on 10 acres of land owned by the Nettle Creek School Corp., where the class is building a wood fence. The agriculture classes at the high school, under the direction of agriculture teacher Nathan Williamson, will be raising and processing beef cattle for the school’s cafeteria to help the corporation save money.
Jacob Loudy, a senior at Hagerstown Jr.-Sr. High School and a member of the agriculture mechanics class, inspects an old well that is located on 10 acres of land owned by the Nettle Creek School Corp., where the class is building a wood fence. The agriculture classes at the high school, under the direction of agriculture teacher Nathan Williamson, will be raising and processing beef cattle for the school’s cafeteria to help the corporation save money.

HAGERSTOWN, Ind. — When money problems faced their school, students in the agriculture classes at Hagerstown Jr.-Sr. High School, along with their teacher, Nathan Williamson, decided it was time that the school started raising beef cattle.

Williamson noted that when the Nettle Creek School Corp. superintendent asked teachers and staff if they knew of any ways to help stretch the school’s tight budget, he along with Jerry Hillman, a maintenance man for the corporation, came up with the idea for the Nettle Creek School Beef Farm.

The beef farm not only serves as a hands-on educational learning experience for the students, Williamson said, but the cattle raised on the 10-acre area, which was a wooded area that the school district already owned, will be butchered in a U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified facility and then used in the school’s cafeteria.

Not only will the program save the school close to $2,500 a year, Hillman added, the students also will be served a quality product instead of a pre-made hamburger patty, which the farm-raised beef will be replacing.

Although the cattle haven’t arrived at the farm yet, Williamson noted that the six students in his agriculture mechanics class have been busy preparing for their arrival later this fall by building a fence around the 10-acre perimeter.

Once the fence is done and the cattle are moved in, he stressed that the care of the livestock will fall into the hands of the animal science class, which will be in charge of making sure the beef cattle eat and drink enough food and water every day to achieve a gain of three pounds.

Upon reaching 1,000 to 1,300 pounds, which will take about a year, the food science class will then step up to the plate and be in charge of overseeing the butchering of the cattle, Williamson explained.

Although there are many tasty cuts of beef available from a cow, he noted for the first year of the program that all of the meat will be turned into whole-cow hamburgers.

“Some may view this as waste, but not every kid can have a prime rib,” he said.

Besides the land which is owned by the school, Williamson noted that this program was all made possible by donations from several different agribusiness groups.