Dixie students receive award

Due West, SC

September 13, 2022 -- The farming and ranching community of Due West and beyond has become more efficient, sustainable, and eco-friendly thanks to a group of Dixie High School FFA students.  More than 40 students, educators, area FFA leaders, Soil and Water Conservation District Board members, Freshwater Coast Community Foundation (FCCF) representatives, and area farmer-ranchers, gathered Sept. 13 at Dixie High School to celebrate the accomplishments of Dixie High School Wrap Recycling Program, where representatives from the FCCF and WCTEL presented the FFA Chapter with a $2,500 donation to assist in the club’s ongoing efforts and future plans.  “These students are examples of fine citizens, hard workers and a bright future,” said Joshua Murdock, Dixie High School ag education teacher and FFA faculty lead. This idea, while simple in context, is having a dramatic and sweeping impact on our area. This is a scalable project, one that is a model for other groups to replicate around the country.”  The Dixie High School Wrap Recycling Program set out with a primary goal to reduce the amount of net
wrap, hay twine, and silage wrap entering the landfill. Working with community members, Mumford Industries and members of the local Soil and Water Conservation board, the students created a plan to identify, contact, and work with cattle farmers to save and collect their hay bale waste. With an initial goal of recycling 4,000 pounds, the students far surpassed that, collecting approximately 22,000 pounds for recycling with the addition of plastics from a local business.
The students didn’t stop there, though. The initiative also includes plans to process the waste into
desirable materials and market the waste for the recycling industry.  “For several months, 120 students participated weekly in preparing materials for the baler,” Murdock said.” Students were able to process around 800 pounds of product each week. So far, they have processed 5 tons for market.”  So far more than 70 FFA members and 58 non-member students have put in more than 8,500 hours toward this effort.  “These students are not only our future, but they give us hope for a smarter, brighter, more sustainable tomorrow,” said Lee Logan, FCCF executive director. “They see a need in our community, and they’re doing their part to help. This initiative is a tremendous example of cooperation, collaboration and innovation. We’re pleased to be a part of it and applaud these students for making a lasting investment in the sustainability of our area.”  Jackson McCall and Rozlyn Partain, Dixie High School seniors, initially approached the FFA group with this idea. “We are proud of what we have accomplished and have truly enjoyed working with area
farmers,” Jackson McCall said.  “We have really enjoyed meeting with the farmers and bettering the way we pick up baling waste across the area,” Rozlyn Partain said.  Eric McCall, WCTEL board member, is also Jackson’s father. For him, this is also a family affair.  “My wife, Eden, challenged us to do something with all the plastic waste from the hay bales. She said I couldn’t bring another bale home until we come up with a plan. So that is what we did. We are charged with taking care of our environment. We are stewards, and that is what this is all about: stewardship.  I’m so proud of these kids for giving up their time and doing the dirty work – in the wet mud, juice, and waste. Sometimes life is not the most clean; you have to roll up your hands and get the work done, and this is what they’re doing.”

About WCTEL West Carolina Rural Telephone Cooperative, Inc. was formed in 1952. Since its beginning, West Carolina Tel has not only met its primary goal of providing basic telephone service to the rural areas of Abbeville and McCormick counties and the Starr and Iva areas of Anderson County, but has also been able to provide the enhanced services others have come to expect in metropolitan areas of the United States. As new services were being developed, West Carolina renewed its commitment to giving customers access to the latest in advanced technologies, including overbuilding its network with fiber to keep stay ahead of the demand for more bandwidth and advanced communications. To learn more, visit www.wctel.com.