FFA program returning to Lakeview

The middle school once again will have an agriculture and FFA program for students interested in animal and plant science.

Amy Paterson led a successful agriculture and FFA program at Windermere High School and currently is the agriscience magnet program adviser at Wekiva High School. Photo by Thomas Lightbody/TK Photography
Amy Paterson led a successful agriculture and FFA program at Windermere High School and currently is the agriscience magnet program adviser at Wekiva High School. Photo by Thomas Lightbody/TK Photography
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The blue and gold corduroy FFA jackets are returning to Lakeview after a four-decade absence.

Amy Paterson has been asked to start an agriculture and FFA program at Lakeview Middle School in the fall. The last time animal and plant science was offered on campus was in the late 1980s when the school was a junior high and, before that, a high school.

Paterson has a long history with running successful Orange County Public Schools ag and FFA programs, including the one at Windermere High School. When Lakeview Principal John Linehan approached Paterson about starting the program, she didn’t hesitate to say yes.

The intracurricular plan will incorporate classroom study for all three grades as an elective class and a ninth-grade Agriculture Foundations class offered to eighth-graders who can earn high school credit.

Amy Paterson will lead the intracurricular agriculture and FFA program starting in the fall. Photo by Thomas Lightbody/TK Photography

The agricultural curriculum has three parts: classroom learning, practical experience through Supervised Agricultural Experiences and participation in FFA events. FFA events help students learn about different fields of agriculture, such as science, technology and business.

The program will have animal opportunities for students that will include raising breeding animals to show and market animals to sell at the Central Florida Fair. Students will interact with chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs, goats and sheep living on the Lakeview campus.

The curriculum provides knowledge of the agricultural food system and research methods, as well, while covering various agriscience and natural resources careers. Classroom lessons will explore the agricultural food system and environmental resources.

They will learn plant science and have the chance to start a garden and grow vegetables or flowers. A pollinator garden will be planted too.

Paterson said she has a close relationship with the Bloom & Grow Garden Society and wants to tap into members’ expertise and knowledge.

“Food science is really a huge portion of our standards,” Paterson said. “Students need to understand where food comes from and how that works. We’ll grow green beans and watermelon and corn; they’ll take care of it and grow it and harvest it and take it home and eat it if they want to.”

Field trips will be part of the curriculum, and guest speakers, such as representatives from the Florida Farm Bureau and local farmers, will be brought into the classroom.

“I’m doing the whole thing,” she said. “If we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right.”

Her goal is to start a FFA alumni booster club and invite former Lakeview FFA members to return to the campus and speak to students or get involved in the animal or plant programs. She will announce a community meeting at a later date.


Paterson’s college degrees range from a bachelor’s in elementary education to a master’s in curriculum and instruction. She’s working on her doctorate now in educational leadership focusing on career and technical education.

She has been surrounded by agriculture and FFA for much of her life. She was in the program in high school, as were her sister and husband.

She and her husband, Marc Paterson, have three children, Emma, 12; Huck, 14; and Hendrix, 21, all of whom have worn the FFA jacket. The family has owned and shown animals for years.

She has served on the Central Florida Fair Poultry Board and as board secretary for the Florida Association of Agricultural Educators.

She is one of many in a long line of Patersons to work at Lakeview. Her mother-in-law, Kay Crouch Paterson — as well as Kay’s mother- and father-in-law, Martha Paterson and Kenneth Lee Paterson — worked at Lakeview for many years. Kenneth served for a short time as the Lakeview FFA adviser, owned Kenmar Dairy and worked as a dairy inspector.

Paterson said this is a much-needed program.

“I’m super passionate about career and technical education,” she said. “I know for a fact that we’re at such a skills loss. Students need to know the tools again. I have middle school students who can drive tractors, they work with animals, and I feel like that has been lost a little bit.

“We will be doing all the competitions,” she said. “All things FFA will happen.”

At Windermere, Paterson’s students won state and national championships, and she also served as an agriscience fair national judge for the national FFA program. She has connections in the FFA circle that will benefit her students at Lakeview; and she wants to maintain her partnership with the University of Central Florida.

The foundation of FFA membership is the organization's motto, "Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Life, Living to Serve.”

“Being an agriculture educator is more than just classroom teaching; it is a lifestyle, for sure,” Paterson said. “It is summer, it is winter, it is Christmas break, it is spring break. … It’s that old-school way of doing things, but we need to bring that back. … I want as many students to join; it was be fantastic if I had every student at Lakeview join.”

She also has been talking to OCPS officials in hopes of making FFA a second magnet program at Lakeview.

“It’s just a passion I grew up with, and I’m super excited to bring it back to downtown Winter Garden,” Paterson said. “I think it will be well received.”


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