9 Who Care: Skott Gent, a driving force behind an Ag Education Center in Maquoketa
MAQUOKETA, Iowa (KCRG) - A challenge so many rural counties and towns face are resources for education, especially to try and keep the best and brightest.
Skott Gent is a true, driving force behind an Ag Education Center that will be a cornerstone of the Maquoketa FFA program.
After a 2020 where so many of us had to stay indoors, it’s not as easy to see the progress outdoors.
The Ag Education Center in Maquoketa is coming together despite hard times for the Ag community, but farmers and the community chose to contribute when times were tough. The community raised $430,000 in funds.
Skott Gent is one of the point persons. He grew up in Cedar Rapids before moving east, as a high school student, to Monmouth, his family’s farm and this life.
We came across Skott from his strong involvement in the Maquoketa FFA program and specifically, this project and what it will bring.
“It all started with our previous FFA teacher and advisor that we had in the fall of 2016,” Gent said. “A lot of classes that they weren’t able to offer here because of a lack of space, really. They’re currently using a classroom in a remodeled bus barn at the high school here, and they don’t have a lot of the room to do the hands-on stuff that the Ag education program focuses on.”
Instead of theory, now room for an actual lab to learn about food science, animal science, horticulture, crop production, the elements of today’s farming.
“Especially in our county, the income level is on the lower end of the state,” Gent said. “A lot of these kids may not be able to go onto regular college, two or four-year, because of the cost. Our goal is to have them more career-ready when they leave the Maquoketa campus, whether it’s to go on to college or into the job market.”
This wasn’t easy to do, the pandemic led to financial challenges all around. But people in Jackson County committed through time, planning and, of course, money.
“Amazing but not surprising that this community has come together on several occasions, not just the school and the town,” Maquoketa CSD Superintendent Chris Hoover said. “The FFA has been able to do and raise the money. Very exciting but not surprising.”
This is where so much of it comes back to Skott Gent. He was part of the FFA Alumni back in 1990 when it formed and now serves as the president. He’s on the Jackson County Farm Bureau and has developed Farm Safety Day to teach third-graders. Plus he’s been in charge of the Hog Show at the County Fair. That’s a lot of responsibility.
“The best part is when some of them leave for school and come back to Maquoketa to come back and start their families and start their careers here.,” Skott Gent said.
And that’s the kernel in this for Maquoketa, how Skott and so many others banded together in one of the toughest days and made it happen. A legacy for them but a reminder for the young people in this town, once you’ve made it, to lend a hand for those who follow.
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