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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 3, 2017
Lynne Hanner, 256-761-3206 email@example.com
New Agricultural Center will grow new partnership opportunities for AIDB, Community
Joe Tom Armbrester embraced a spirit of adventure in agriculture and demonstrated a passion for sharing knowledge with other farmers and ranchers. On Thursday, Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind broke ground for the Joe Tom Armbrester Agricultural Center – a facility and program that initiates a new growing season for partnerships with AIDB and the community.
Last year the AIDB Foundation received $1 million from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous for development of a new Agricultural Center in memory of Joe Tom Armbrester. The new Center will benefit all of AIDB’s schools and will generate partnership opportunities with local public schools, providing work experience and a curriculum focused on hands-on skills that get back to the basics of agricultural reality in today’s world.
AIDB Special Education Coordinator Dr. Dennis Gilliam recalled his father’s experiences on the AIDB farm as a young student. AIDB first incorporated agriculture into its vocational training efforts with the purchase of a farm in 1929 and operated for many years. Students learned the art of farming, earned extra spending money and in those days helped put food on the Institute’s dining room tables.
“So many years later, a multitude of things have changed but the simple truth remains that if we feed the land, the land feeds us,” said Gilliam. “The modern day farmer deals with so many challenges, but I fear the largest of which is devaluation of hard work. AIDB realizes that the inability to see or hear does not translate into an inability to work and produce. Currently, our Ag teachers show deaf students how to repair small engines to fix a ticking valve and blind students how to grow the most beautiful flowers. In these classes, students are only limited by their desire to achieve.”
With the creation of the Joe Tom Armbrester Agricultural Center, we will be able to instill in the students of AIDB, as well as local schools, some of the oft forgotten characteristics of hard work, patience and ingenuity that typified the namesake of this center.”
Jan Armbrester, who retired as an AIDB art teacher, shared that the project began through conversations with friends and family about advancements throughout the state in returning agriculture to the schools. “Then I was given the honor of selecting a memorial to Joe Tom,” said Armbrester. “That was easy – agriculture and AIDB!”
Standing beneath a tree on the grounds where the Joe Tom Armbrester Agricultural Center will be constructed in 2018, she recalled a story about her late husband’s passion for life.
“Once upon a time, two young ambitious country boys set out on an adventure into the real world. They found themselves almost broke, and driving along they saw a sign – Strawberries – U Pick $2 Gallon. Encouraged, they went to work picking gallons of strawberries. When they went to collect their money, they learned they owed for the strawberries. They scraped up the money, paid for the strawberries and started the trip home – broke, and with nothing to eat but strawberries.”
“Lesson learned – before you set out on an adventure, do your homework. Research. Ask questions. Be prepared. Joe Tom’s philosophy was – Be prepared, work hard and play hard!”
“Knowing Joe Tom’s passion for agriculture and AIDB’s passion for transforming lives, it was a perfect match, made in Heaven,” said Armbrester. ”Together we found the goals to honor the life and legend of Joe Tom’s spirit of adventure in agriculture and sharing knowledge with other farmers and ranchers. Together, we are limitless!”
“We are committed to training our students who are deaf, blind, deafblind or multidisabled to be competitive in the job market,” said AIDB President Dr. John Mascia. “The Agricultural Industry in Alabama generates a yearly economic impact of $70.4 billion and produces 580,295 jobs in the state. And as Jimmy Parnell, president of the Alabama Farmer’s Federation, points out – ‘What makes agriculture unique is that every county in the state is involved.’ A successful statewide industry with potential job opportunities in every county is a perfect partnership for AIDB. We take pride in the diversity of our people and in the diversity of our programs. Those with sensory loss need hands-on training and Agriscience allows our students to experience something new and challenging.”
The Joe Tom Armbrester Agricultural Center represents a vision for AIDB’s future and is becoming a reality because a special friend and donor wanted to create a living legacy that will embrace opportunities for growth – in farming and in job development,” said Mascia.
“As we stand here today and look out over the 30 plus acres that have been cleared for this Center – envision the open air/outdoor classrooms, pastures with various livestock, chicken coops, row crops, raised beds, an orchard, a vineyard, greenhouse, pond and more. More importantly, please join with us in sharing a vision for a new generation of skilled and trained future farmers who are deaf, blind, deafblind or multidisabled.”