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Agriculture education strengthened through local partnerships


After SchoolAgricultural education is being taught for the second year at fluvanna county High School, thanks to a partnership between the school and the fluvanna county Farm Bureau. The last time the county school system had a similar curriculum was in 1994.

Farm Bureau has always been in favor of agriculture education for youth,” said Fluvanna Farm Bureau President George Goin. “About seven years ago, members of the board started seriously talking about getting an ag program back in the fluvanna county school system. It took six years to get this program going, but we finally did it last year.”

“It truly is a partnership,” said Russell Jennings, Fluvanna High School’s agriculture education teacher. “If there’s anything I need, I can just pick up the phone and call George or another Farm Bureau member. They’re like a big brother to me.”

Jennings’ classes this year are completely full.

“Ag education is real important to Fluvanna students, especially since 70 percent of the county income is derived from agriculture businesses,” Goin said. He noted that the horticulture industry in Fluvanna and across Virginia is growing, and that the new curriculum will help equip students for careers in that market.

Clarke County High School is home to another example of a partnership between a school and community groups.

CCHS partnered with Clarke County Farm Bureau and Clermont Farm to start a swine cooperative for the school’s existing ffa chapter.

“Our ag ed program is based almost 100 percent on community involvement,” said Allison Perry, Clarke County High School’s agriculture education teacher. “The community is aware of our programs and excited about them. If they weren’t we wouldn’t be as successful.”

Supporting ag education has long been one of the county Farm Bureau board’s goals, said Clarke Farm Bureau President Clay Brumback. “Helping start the swine cooperative last year was a good fit.”

The county Farm Bureau provided funding for a feeding floor on which to raise the pigs and helped the ffa chapter purchase other equipment. Clermont Farm, a 360-acre historical property, provided the site on which students raised 13 heritage breed hogs during the 2013-2014 school year. They learned about animal husbandry and marketing a finished product.

“These are two examples of great partnerships between county Farm Bureaus across Virginia and their local vocational agriculture programs,” said Martha Moore, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation vice president of governmental relations. “Other county Farm Bureaus have sponsored events for their local ffa chapters, provided internships, involved the students in their annual meetings, and purchased animals raised by the students at county fairs.

“It’s great to see this intergenerational collaboration between our county leaders and the future members of the agricultural industry. This collaboration is vital to maintain agriculture and forestry as the No. 1 industry in Virginia.”

According to the Virginia Association of Agricultural Educators, more than 100 schools in the state offer ag education programs.



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