Capstone project completion opens opportunities for WHS Ag program

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When Gary Molina, a senior at Winters High School, completed his Senior Capstone project of leveling the Ag site property he paved the way for the program to take steps toward the vision of becoming a crop production opportunity a reality. Donnie Whitworth, WHS agriculture instructor, said Molina’s capstone completion was a big piece in getting the property and ready to move forward in crop production and transition the WHS Ag program toward a working farm experience for students. “We’re trying to go away from a small garden based to something more similar to industry/production Ag. Something closer to a farm,” said Whitworth. “Gary was really passionate about getting this done. It was really his idea when he came into the Ag program his freshman year. He stuck with it and followed through.” Whitworth said now that the property is leveled students in his Applied Plant Sciences class are actively starting to develop a mandarin orchard which they hope to start planting in the beginning of 2019. Molina put in a lot of preparation and training before taking on leveling the property. He said he felt the challenge in the beginning of his project as he learned how to use tools, became familiar with how everything worked and learned the trade as a newcomer and professional. “I wanted to make sure everything was diligent and perfect,” said Molina. “Once the orchard goes in if one thing is wrong it could all go down hill. I’d rather be safe than sorry. I didn’t want it to flood.” Molina said he also faced the fear on getting onto the big tractors and driving them. He said his father and project mentor were encouraging and their belief in him helped to boost his confidence to just hop in and go. “I was nervous because it was a big tractor,” said Molina. “Once you get going it gets a lot easier. I realized I was psyching myself out for nothing.” Molina said the capstone project experience helped him to really focus on what was important for his senior year and helped him to prepare for life after high school. “With my capstone, personally, it has made me a better person,” said Molina. “Dealing with money and time. These are things that we have to start doing after this year. If you have a hard time getting on it now you will have a head start on it in the log run. Any help you can get now will just benefit you in the future.” He feels more confident with the industry and plans on staying in the family excavating business with his dad and one day taking over the company when his dad decides to retire. “My knowledge of construction in general has really gone up,” said Molina. “I didn’t really know anything. I knew you just moved dirt, but there’s a lot of factors that go into it.” Molina said through his experience he has learned a lot of important work and life skills that will benefit him as a young adult. He’s now experienced work-related things from learning how to work with difficult people, time management and learning how to work with someone else’s busy schedule. He also can now wake up at 5 a.m. every day. Molina advises fellow seniors to choose a project based off of something they are already passionate about or see in their future, and not to procrastinate and wait to start it near the end of the period. “With waiting you build up all that stress,” said Molina. “I can focus on school and football now.” Molina said not only did he benefit from the experience of the capstone project, but both the FFA program and the Winters community will gain from it. “Once I started working I realized this is something i really wanted to do,” said Molina. “I love my community and I love the FFA community. I like giving back to both of those things.” Whitworth agreed that Molina’s capstone has brought great value to the WHS Ag program and community. “We needed to get the school to be a farm that produces something,” said Whitworth. “We would really like to see some of the produce served within the school district. A majority will be sold and help produce income to bring back into the program.” The mandarin orchard will go in next to a previous senior capstone of grapevines. Whitworth said the grapes were the only thing preserved in the leveling of the property that previously served as a sheep grazing pasture. There will also be room for seasonal crops students can plan throughout the year. ]]>

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