The Philip W. Bradford Agriculture Science Building at Aledo High School sports a striking new exterior addition this week after installation of a mural by department students.
The mural’s development came about as the result of efforts by the school’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter. Every year, the chapter participates in a program called the National Chapter Award Program.
Krysti Kelley, Agriculture Science Instructor and FFA Advisor, said the chapter must complete 15 activities related to three categories: Growing Leadership, Building Our Community, and Agricultural Advocacy.
Each of those categories has a student committee to work toward completion of those activities.
Kelley, who is also the Aledo ISD Business, Industry and STEM Department Chair, said one of the activity categories is called Agricultural Advocacy.
“This is really just trying to teach students how to promote agriculture within their community,” Kelley said. “Last summer, we sat down with our officer team and they thought up the mural. They wanted to put an image in town that helped reinforce people's understanding of the agricultural roots of Aledo, and help them also see the current commodities that we produce — that was the vision and the reasoning for the mural.”
The Agricultural Advocacy committee met and researched the historical roots of Aledo and then decided on design elements for the project — an initial design that included the icons they wanted and what historical pieces they wanted to include.
Jud Voight, one of the leaders of the committee, is the son of Lisa Voight, a mural painter, and she volunteered her time and talents to the project.
“She helped us rework it into the image that we now have,” Kelley said. “She was able to incorporate everything the students found on research, even give us a couple of ideas, and then bring it into an image that's going to be super eye appealing.
“It was such a big blessing for her to help us in that way, and we’re really grateful for it.”
The postcard concept was Voight’s idea after she researched murals in other towns.
The Aledo FFA was was chosen for the activity as one of the top-10 in the nation in the Agriculture Advocacy program.
Two local FFA students, Jacob Ellerbusch and Kaylee Hopkins, spoke at the mural’s unveiling on Sept. 21, and they will repeat their presentation in an interview with a panel of judges on the chapter’s behalf on Tuesday.
“We'll find out next Wednesday if we make top three, and if we do, they will interview in Indianapolis, Indiana in October, and share with another panel to see if we will become the national champions,” Kelley said.
The installation of the 200-pound mural, which was painted on treated plywood and then treated with a weather-resistant sealant, was another can-do project of the AHS ag students. On Tuesday, Sept. 20, they gathered in the ag building and, as a group, figured out how to lift it as a group and carry it outside, turn it back on its side, and then realize that a trailer needed to be backed into place for them to stand on to raise the mural to its place.
Lumber rails had been attached to the building, and the mural has matching rails on the back which allowed it to sit in place once it was raised into position. From here, it was a matter of centering and then permanently attaching it to the building.
On Wednesday, a group of school officials and spectators gathered for the unveiling of the mural.
Ellerbusch and Hopkins spoke of the mural and its significance.
Hopkins spoke of the metaphor that “a picture is worth 1,000 words.”
“Aledo FFA brought this metaphor to life,” Ellerbusch said. “The Aledo community is located just outside the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. It has deep roots in agriculture. Our community is known for cattle production, boasts being the ranch horse capital of the world, and is home to the Parker County Peach Festival.”
“However, this historically agricultural community has become more suburban over the last 10 years,” Hopkins added. “Many of our agricultural farms have become housing developments and industrial buildings. Our community is losing sight of its agricultural roots, and many have no idea of the agricultural significance in our county.”
Hopkins said the overall message greets visitors to Aledo.
“The ‘A’ of Aledo represents the traditional farms in our community that helped form our town,” Hopkins said. “The ‘L’ highlights cattle production, as 65 different cattle ranches have been the heart and soul of our town since its founding.”
“In the heart of Aledo, there's a feed and grain company called Bryant Grain. Next to this mill is a railroad that carries many agricultural commodities and is known as the famous Aledo train. Both of these elements are depicted in the letter ‘E,’” Ellerbusch added. “Parker County is home to the Parker County Peach Festival. Our county produces many peaches. And this is our contribution to the agriculture in the state of Texas and is honored in the letter ‘D.’”
“The letter O is also an homage to the farms and ranches that formed our community,” Hopkins said. “It displays the brands of the five major cattle ranches in Aledo. Finally, the horse and rider represent the significance of ranch horses at Parker County. Our county is known as the ranch horse capital of the world. And we wanted to honor this distinction.”
The letters “FFA” are filled with icons of the national FFA organization: the owl, the corn with the plow and the rising sun, and the eagle.
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