Former Heritage High School student plants seeds for new building

Contributed photo / Taylor Dyer plants a tree on campus last spring as part of his agriculture program at Heritage High School.

When Taylor Dyer first pitched the idea for an outdoor agriculture building at Heritage High School, he was nervous.

"It's a real ambitious task for someone my age to pitch to people who have the authority and position to help out," the 18-year-old said. "The building I drew is like a million-dollar project. And I know it's hard to get any kind of money for something like what I was trying to do."

Securing funding became Dyer's focus his senior year - and because of his efforts, in August, the school was awarded a state grant for $100,000 to go ahead with the project, using the base plans he designed.

Dyer got the idea for the project after attending a Future Farmers of America event at LaFayette High School in December 2018, where he saw an agriculture building the school's FFA team put to use.

"That kind of gave me the motivation to draw some plans up and start researching into how to get something like that," he said. "I've taken all the architecture classes at the school so I knew how to draw buildings, so I just started brainstorming and drilling up."

The agriculture center Dyer designed includes one large classroom space and two smaller rooms designated for meetings. He pictures it located near the school's greenhouse, just a short walk from the main office.

He pitched his idea to his agriculture teacher Megan Shearer, principal Ronnie Bradford, district Superintendent Denia Reese and the school board. After some tweaks, he then began sending out the schematics and plans for grant opportunities and to state Sen. Jeff Mullis.

"What Taylor did was unprecedented," said Bradford, who hasn't seen another student create a plan like this and push to try to get the money for it.

With the total cost way higher than what a grant would offer, they decided to break the project into different phases, the first being the outdoor classroom. Bradford is hopeful future funding will allow for the project to be completely realized.

With the help of Mullis and the county, the school is hiring an architect, and plans are to have the large classroom ready for use by December 2020, Bradford said.

Dyer said he wanted the building to show people that agriculture is more than "picking tomatoes or riding a tractor. There's so much research going on today expanding the world of agriculture and this building is a nontraditional way of showing FFA is more than just farming outside."

This isn't the only grant the young alum has helped the school earn. He also applied to the National FFA for a $1,000 grant to build an arboretum on campus last year. Dyer grew up on his grandparents' cattle farm and said the field of agriculture has always interested him. Currently a freshman at the University of Georgia, he is studying to become an agriculture teacher.

"He's definitely left a legacy," Shearer said of Dyer.

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