Demopolis High ag program gets boost from Auburn

Austin Barton (left) and Chandler Barton clean some of the 32 engines donated by Auburn University to Demopolis High School Agriscience Education.

Austin Barton (left) and Chandler Barton clean some of the 32 engines donated by Auburn University to Demopolis High School Agriscience Education.

The growing Agriscience Education program at Demopolis High School recently received a boost when Auburn University donated 32 small engines to the department.

“What we had given to us were some small, four-cycle engines for our students to be able to look at and for them to be able to assemble, disassemble, get working again and troubleshoot as necessary because this is stuff that they’ll encounter in the real world,” first-year DHS Agriscience teacher Trent Wells said. “It is stuff that they’ll need to be able to take care of.”

A graduate of Curry High School in Walker County, Wells spent his collegiate years at Iowa State and Auburn, connections that are serving Demopolis students well as he settles in atop the fledgling Agriscience program.

“I happen to know some folks at Auburn, so we’re supposed to be getting some more stuff too,” Wells said. “The stuff that will be coming is some additional tools to work with the engines, some electrical supplies and maybe even some carpentry stuff.”

Wells teaches a variety of classes under the Agriscience Education umbrella, courses that include Forestry, Introduction to Welding, Agriscience and a forthcoming Landscape Design class.

“We’re trying to grow the program here. The program hasn’t had a chance to grow in the last year or so and we’re trying to change that here now,” Wells, who also serves as faculty sponsor of the local chapter of Future Farmers of America, said. “We’re trying to get FFA back up and running. We’re trying to get some things done. We’re trying to get the green house up and running. It just takes time and money. That is the unfortunate part of anything at the school level. It just takes time and money.”

Between the donations from Auburn University and the vocal support he has received from various members of the community, Wells has been encouraged about the program’s potential.

“I believe we have the community support here to help us take care of anything that we need,” Wells said. “I know the community wants it, having met with several people. It’s just the point of getting there.”

Wells currently has more than 120 students enrolled in Agriscience Education courses and has seen the rejuvenation efforts of FFA draw 31 students to club membership. Those numbers give Wells a good start toward his goal of doing for his students what was done for him as young Agriscience student.

“When I was in the ninth grade, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do,” Wells said. “But it was coming through as a ninth grade Ag student and maturing a little bit and really understanding this is where I want to be, this is where I believe that I fit in, my role in society and the world.”