Foundation Funds John W. Harrison, Jr. Academic Field Trip for Foster Middle School Students

Foster Middle School Principles of Agriculture Students Visit the Dallas World Aquarium and the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo with Funding from the Longview ISD Foundation, Inc.
Kay Ray, Longview ISD Executive Director, interviewed the students to learn about their learning experience.
On Friday, January 28, eighth grade students in Brandon Williamson’s Principles of Agriculture class traveled to Dallas and Fort Worth to extend their classroom learning by visiting the Dallas World Aquarium in downtown Dallas and the famous Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.
The Longview ISD Foundation, Inc., a non-profit education foundation that provides funding for Longview ISD educators through its three grant programs, awarded Mr. Williamson a $4781.75 John W. Harrison, Jr. Academic Field Trip Grant for his grant titled “Animals in Action.”
Students boarded buses at 7:30 AM to travel to the Dallas World Aquarium to improve their knowledge of aquatic species with special emphasis on the current status of marine species, their ecosystem, and any conservation efforts that are in effect.  After entering the aviary entrance, students formed groups with their aquarium guides and parent chaperones to tour the aquarium.  Mr. Driggers, student teacher from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, also accompanied the students.   Not only did the students see exotic fish and learn about the different breeds, but they also viewed exotic birds and animals who live in trees.  Eighth grader Madalyn Cain said she saw many fish and birds she had never seen before and learned about the different species.  Jake Lundy was especially impressed by the manatees, an endangered species, and he also enjoyed seeing the bats in their habitat.  The anaconda was also a big hit with the students.  Benjamin Weindorff enjoyed seeing penguins and learned that penguins live in Africa, especially since he had thought they only lived in the Artic.  Dekevin Smith, an eighth grader who wants to become a veterinarian, said the sloth an albino alligator were his favorites. 
After learning for two hours at the aquarium, the students enjoyed pizza at Campisi’s, an iconic Dallas Italian restaurant opened in 1946.
Then the students traveled to the Fort Worth Stock Show, the most authentic western lifestyle experience since 1896, to attend the famous Texas Pro Rodeo.  The students saw bull riding, women’s breakaway steer roping, women’s barrel racing, steer wrestling, bucking bronco riding, carriage races, calf roping, and team roping.  Students witnessed several bull riders bucked from the bulls, including one whom the students said was hurt.   Most of the students in the class had never attended a rodeo and were impressed with the skills of the rodeo contestants.  Students saw Hereford, Brahma, and Santa Gertrudis cattle, but all learned that the cattle used in the rodeo are crossbreeds.  Having studied the breeds of cattle in class, students were able to use their knowledge at the rodeo to classify the breeds.  Students pointed out the difference between bulls and steers, noting that the bulls, having not been castrated, were fierce because of their testosterone.  While at the rodeo, students also enhanced their knowledge of the ethical treatment of animals.
The students returned to Longview at 9:00 PM after a day filled with learning and a stop on the trip home at Buc-ee’s.
Travis Lundy, parent chaperone, enjoyed his opportunity to travel with the students and assist the teachers.  Mr. Lundy praised the Foundation for providing the funding for the trip. “I am thankful not only for the funding for the trip but also for Mr. Williamson for taking the time and such care to request the grant funding to make this learning experience possible for his students.” 
Several of Mr. Williamson’s students are raising animals as part of the FFA program.  Madalyn Cain raised and showed a goat at the Fort Worth Stock Show in early February.  At the show, she learned what she should be doing to raise a champion goat, one she said must have a well-developed rump, a muscular chest, and a flat back because these goats are market animals and are judged for their meatiness.  Many of the students said they had eaten goat meat, including one who said he had enjoyed goat meat tacos.  Madalyn said a goat costs between $400 and $500; the purchase is the student’s responsibility.  However, Longview ISD houses the animals and provides food and basic veterinary care. 
The Longview ISD Foundation, Inc. also awarded Mr. Williamson with a $2,500 grant so he can purchase a goat treadmill for all FFA students to use as they exercise their goats and develop the characteristics of a champion.  Mr. Williamson said that the goats will workout on the treadmill every other day, working up to a maximum of nine minutes, to achieve the desired results.  Currently, the students are using an improvised treadmill meant for use by people, but when Mr. Williamson receives his funding on March 9, he can order the treadmill, and students can begin using a real goat treadmill.
Since 2019, the Longview ISD Foundation has funded nine academic field trips grants for a total of $41,997.88.