This is an article from the April 2017 edition of NAAE’s News & Views Newsletter. To read News & Views in its entirety, please visit this link.
We know community partnerships are a vital part of sustaining our agriculture programs. Even with seven full-time agriculture teachers, like at Tulare High School, in Tulare, Calif., keeping the agriculture program directly connected with the community is crucial for program growth and success. Those community contacts are one way we can provide our students with the expert information in which they are interested.
It is in large part thanks to strong community partnerships that the Tulare High School agriculture program was named the 2016 NAAE Region I Outstanding Middle/Secondary Program. With nearly 700 students enrolled in agriculture classes, Tulare prides itself in reaching out and finding experts in agriculture to take their students’ learning to the next level.
“Between our working dairy facility and 78 acres of corn and alfalfa, our students work with experts in the field every single day,” said Shay Williams-Hopper, one of the agriculture teachers at Tulare. “Students interact with veterinarians, milkers, breeders, herdsmen and farmers on a daily basis as they learn both in and out of the classroom.”
There are a multitude of opportunities available for the Tulare agriculture students to interact with agricultural experts outside of the classroom as well. Students in floral design are able to visit local floral shops and complete job shadowing as part of their experiential learning. Those enrolled in veterinary science meet with local animal care providers to learn about the animal care industry. Tulare also has 40 students who are enrolled in a work experience class and gain hands-on experiences through interactions with their employers and co-workers.
Tulare also partners with a local community college and the University of California-Davis to provide its students with agricultural experiences not available at the school, in addition to working with the veterinarians from UC-Davis to pregnancy check the program’s dairy herd twice a month.
“We know that students learn best when they have the opportunity to do,” added Williams-Hopper. “Through these partnerships, our students are able to work with other animals, since we only have dairy cattle at our school.”
The students at Tulare are also able to talk with experts about potential careers in agriculture, which keeps them interested and engaged. Students are encouraged to pursue postsecondary education and training in agricultural fields, based on the interests they have developed while in high school.
“The students like looking into potential ag careers for after high school,” said Williams-Hopper. “They get to see what their options are. We’ve seen our students change their career paths because of their experiences in the program.”
Want to learn more about the Tulare agriculture program’s award or to see the other 2016 Outstanding Middle/Secondary Agricultural Education Program award winners? Follow this link. The 2016 Outstanding Middle/Secondary Agricultural Education program award was sponsored by AGCO and Monsanto as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.
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