School Farm Continues Growth

Donation Brings Calling Full Circle
Posted on 06/03/2021
This is the image for the news article titled Donation Brings Calling Full CircleFour-year-old Emma Grace Chambers grew up with the nine cows that, due to the generosity of her parents, now have a new home at the Weakley County Schools Livestock Production Farm. Safely tucked in her father Sam’s arms, she watched with some level of reservation as farm manager Jason Kemp and assistant manager Preasley Yates unloaded the three Brangus heifers and six cows ranging from three to five years old.

“We talked about this on the ride here, remember Emma Grace,” her father gently reminded her. “You’ve been telling everyone they were going to high school. And as soon as we drove in, you said, ‘Look, they have friends.’”

The delivery almost doubles the herd for the farm that continues to expand its potential impact on the school system. Already in 2021, partnerships have been established with the University of Tennessee at Martin for dual enrollment classes, Weakley Farmers CO OP for demonstration plots and Nutrien Ag Solutions for pasture renovations. The additional cattle will mean increased opportunities for hands-on study of vaccinations, reproduction techniques and overall health protocols in the large animal science course of study.

Chambers explains the livestock donation as a “full circle” moment.

Twenty years ago, he served as the FFA Chaplain at Munford High School. Since then, he has married, become a Methodist minister, moved to the Palmersville area, started a small farm and a family that includes Emma Grace and one-year-old Julianna.

While farming helped he and wife Melissa, who grew up in rural Indiana, live out their value of ensuring their children knew where their food comes from, the demands on time were great. He was serving as pastor of Lone Oak United Methodist Church in Paducah, and she teaches 7th grade English in Henry County. Julianna’s birth during a pandemic prompted some reflection.

“We really had a chance to prioritize our lives and knew that they are going to be this age for only a short while,” he explained. “We really wanted to be around, to be with them and to be close.”

That meant a job change for Sam. He said yes to becoming the director of the UTM’s Wesley Foundation. Downsizing their farm life was next on the agenda.

A call to Jason Roberts in UTM’s ag department produced the introduction to Kemp and the schools’ farm.

“It really excited me to think that it would come full circle,” Chambers noted, underscoring that FFA was the first organization that “recognized me and the call on my life.”
“I’m excited to be able to give back to an ag department and to one that is in our community, that serves kids from our neighborhood, that will serve her,” he added, pointing to his oldest daughter, and recounting the conversation they had had as they traveled with the animals to their new home. Since the farm is adjacent to Dresden High School where she will eventually attend, he had reassured her that she would see and, once again work with, the cows and their calves.

Understandably, saying good-bye to Lady Gaga, Alarm Clock, and (from Chambers describes as their “confection phase” of naming) Oreo, Thin Mint and Moonpie, may have been difficult for Emma Grace. Some were waiting at her Palmersville home when she was born, and some she helped name. But she also appears to be ready to fill her newest role.

She was first to explain that the mini cattle drive occurred on the day after Julianna’s birthday, and, when asked who was oldest, she replied with great confidence, “I’m the big sister.”

Since the Chambers are keeping a couple of bulls and a few head of cattle, she will be able to teach her little sister all that she has learned thus far as a potential future FFA-er.

“We are extremely grateful to the Chambers and their understanding of how important ag classes and programs like FFA are to our future,” said Kemp of the donation that is valued at somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000. “Their generosity truly is an investment in not only their daughters’ education but also the lives of hundreds of students in this county.”

Chambers family

Melissa Chambers holds one-year-old Julianna and Sam Chambers comforts four-year-old Emma Grace as the family says goodbye to their farm animals, a donation valued at approximately $10,000 to $15,000.

unloading cows
Jason Kemp and Preasley Yates unload the heifers and cows that almost double the herd at the Weakley County Schools Livestock Production Farm.

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