Joining Mackay High School’s FFA chapter and taking ag classes has paid unexpected dividends for freshman Kooper Hainline.
Kooper, 15, a five-year veteran of the Custer County 4-H program, was just hoping to learn more about raising market pigs when he signed up.
“I wanted to see if they could teach me more about raising livestock,” Kooper said.
Along the way, he learned how to raise better livestock and how to raise sturgeon, tilapia, rainbow trout and golden trout in the school’s fish lab.
“There’s a lot of hands-on projects I am interested in, like the fish lab where we learn to feed and raise fish,” he said. “We’ve learned about the recalculating system and how sturgeon and rainbow trout often live in the same environment. I really like sturgeon.”
Students have raised and repopulated Lower Cedar Creek with the golden trout they’ve raised.
“I think that it’s really cool because we’re not just doing this because it’s good for students but because it’s good for the environment and the future of the ecosystem, too,” he said.
And, Kooper applied what he’s learned in class to raising better 4-H pigs. He raises Blue Butt pigs which are usually a cross between a Hampshire and Yorkshire or a Hampshire and a Chester White.
“I’ve learned that a taller and lengthier-built hog usually finishes less fat and meatier,” Kooper said.
Kooper, whose parents are Andrew and Angie Hainline, is looking forward to the next school year.
“I want to take horticulture classes and continue growing as an FFA member,” he said. “FFA has helped me overcome by my shyness through public speaking.”