Grant provides students with hands-on manufacturing experience

Published: Nov. 8, 2023 at 5:56 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 8, 2023 at 6:32 PM CST
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LEPANTO, Ark. (KAIT) - A new grant will provide East Poinsett County agriculture students with state-of-the-art equipment to improve their skills.

Betsy Fires-Mahan has been teaching agri at EPC for years. She said the program has grown exponentially, and the increase in students has ushered in the need for new equipment.

“We are getting the Boss Laser engraver, and they are going to use that sander machine we just got in a few days ago with our state start-up grant,” she said Wednesday.

Many students, primarily girls, are looking to get crucial hands-on experience with heavy equipment. Fires-Mahan said that some of the girls in the program are not looking at colleges but rather trade school or going straight into the workforce.

“They go into a job, and they already have so many hours on this piece of equipment, and that would look great. Also, they already have that base knowledge and will be able to go right in,” said Fires-Mahon.

Not only will students use the Boss Laser for competitions, but they will also be able to build some pretty neat stuff.

“We are planning on making a trophy that we will be able to pass back and forth between us and Marked Tree when we have our game every year,” she said.

With new technology always coming out, it has been tough for schools to keep up. Fires-Mahon said since she has been teaching, the strategies have changed to become more technology-driven.

“Build just a deer stand or build something like that, just basic stuff. Well, it’s got so more technology that that’s something that will start to pick up,” said Fires-Mahon.