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Jennifer Johnston doesn't shy away from hard work. Neither do the members of her Zane Trace FFA chapter.

That hard work has paid off with the chapter being awarded an Ohio FFA Foundation's Agricultural & Rural Community Outreach Program grant for the seventh time.

Johnston, the chapter advisor, said applying for the grant requires a detailed plan of action for each of four specific goals for the grant funding with a timeline from July 2020 to February 2021.

The chapter's work will benefit the community when the ZT gardens will provide free vegetables this summer on a stand next to the Blessing Box in front of the school beginning July 7. Anyone in the community can pick up free vegetables throughout the summer and fall at the stand. 

In addition, Zane Trace FFA members will work with first- and second-grade students to grow fruits and vegetables for the school cafeteria. They will also raise chickens in a portable chicken coop to donate meat and eggs to the Church Triumphant Food Pantry. Elementary students will participate in programs to learn about food production. 

Johnston said she appreciates how the grant program benefits the FFA chapter members.

"The grant provides opportunity for their supervised agriculture experience (SAE) projects conducted outside of the classroom," Johnston said.

"The students can choose to participate in developing and teaching lessons over the gardens and poultry, coaching the after-school healthy habits club for elementary students or physically working in the gardens/poultry house for their experiences. Many of our students have challenges in developing their own SAE programs at home so the grant assists them by providing these opportunities at school. 

"The grant work also contributes to classroom learning as students experience firsthand the processing of vegetables, chickens and fruit into new food products such as jelly, meat, eggs and juice. 

"The sense of community service developed in students is also a benefit of the grant as they learn to mentor younger members of the Zane Trace community and provide produce and meat for food pantries in our area."

The Zane Trace FFA chapter is a satellite program of Pickaway-Ross.