Sunday, November 30, 2014

Agriculture in the Classroom, Up and Running in Cleveland and Cincinnati

Guest Column from State Representative Buchy

Fifty years ago in Ohio, the rural school districts looked to the big cities for the best practices in education. Today, big cities are looking to rural areas for clues on how to make their schools more successful. They are focused on increasing graduation rates and students that are ready for college and the workforce. In rural Ohio a common denominator in our successful schools is strong families and a good work ethic that comes with our agrarian lifestyle.

This past spring and into the summer, operations began in Cincinnati and Cleveland that focused on recruitment for students in the 4-H and FFA programs. This is all part of a pilot project funded in the state budget that we have been discussing for the past year and a half.

Beginning this fall, both Cleveland East Tech High School and the James N. Gamble Montessori High School in Cincinnati established FFA chapters and began high school courses on Agricultural Food Production and Food Science.

For the younger children, George Washington Carver Elementary (Cleveland) and Rothenberg Preparatory Academy (Cincinnati) are providing an introduction to agriculture by involving every elementary student in those buildings exposure to agricultural topics via 4-H in the classroom.

This program isn’t about corn and hogs. The goal is to provide these young people the ability to learn about agricultural science hands-on and use that information to fill food processing and food science positions that are going unfilled in Ohio’s urban areas.

The benefits of this program go beyond agricultural education, providing young people with leadership opportunities they may not otherwise have. The FFA and 4-H are the top leadership programs in the country. The program will provide access to judging and speaking competitions that could make them successful in a multitude of future work opportunities.

The program has just begun, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that the pilot project will expand to other schools in the urban parts of this state and provide the high quality education that our children in rural Ohio have had access to for years.

Providing opportunities to young people translates to skilled workers to fill unfilled positions that keeps and attracts employers to Ohio and will help continue to grow our economy.

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