Professional Agriculture Program Expands in Mo-Valley | News

HOUTZDALE — Interest in a new professional agriculture program in the Moshannon Valley School District is growing.

The district has formed a professional agriculture program at Jr./Sr. high school open at the start of the current school year. Superintendent Dr. John Zesiger said the school district has made a conscious effort to improve the old technology education curriculum to reach more students.

He said the school board’s former superintendent, Dr. Dan Perna, was a big proponent of professional agricultural education and provided guidance to the district in setting up a program.

Zesiger said the program has been well received. “The Professional Agriculture program truly brings together the best of agricultural science, technology, welding, engine repair and animal science. It provides students with skills and experiences that can be transferred directly to their homes, farms, camps, families, and any aspirations for higher education. It takes what the district was doing with technology education and makes it better,” he explained.

He said the council hired Kayla Edmiston as an instructor for the program. Zesiger said: “(Edmiston) really brought energy and passion to the program. This enthusiasm can already be seen in our students just six months after starting. We look forward to all the wonderful accomplishments of Mrs. Edmiston and her students.

High school principal Kris Albright said the program is open to students in grades seven through twelfth. He said the creation of the professional agriculture program expands on what was taught in previous years in the high school science curriculum.

“Previously, most agriculture-related experiences students gained came from hands-on learning opportunities in the science department. Students used the aquaponics lab, greenhouse, outdoor gardens, and indoor grow lab to study things like photosynthesis, plant growth experiments, and water testing.

Students enrolled in the professional agriculture program learn many things depending on their grade level. Edmiston said: “Seventh and eighth graders learned common terminology for animals based on their level of maturity. They have also learned the basics of plant cell anatomy and are beginning to learn what it takes to own and care for a pet.

“The farm mechanic students recently completed hands-on projects where they learned how to create concrete fire bowls as well as concrete pumpkins and concrete Christmas trees earlier this year. Members will also learn basic electrical wiring and plumbing, soldering. They will eventually learn repair and maintenance of small gasoline engines as well as introductory woodworking skills.

“Students in the horticulture class used a few different features at school, such as the outdoor greenhouse, raised beds, and aquaponic and hydroponic systems. They studied the basic elements of a flower, how flowers reproduce, and created their first floral arrangements in pumpkins just in time for Halloween.

“Students in the introductory agriculture class learned about career development and leadership opportunities through the national organization FFA, including how food moves from field to table, how to market food products so that they are attractive to consumers and what laboratory equipment is important and useful in an agricultural class laboratory.

“Students also have the opportunity to complete a project outside of the classroom. These projects are known as supervised farming experiments. Supervised Farming Experience is a student-led, instructor-supervised on-the-job learning experience that results in measurable outcomes within a predefined and agreed upon set of technical farming standards, of food and natural resources and career-ready practices aligned with a student’s career plan. of Study. The purpose of these types of projects is to help students develop some form of financial independence by keeping accurate records of their projects. Through these projects, students can earn degrees as well as monetary rewards,” she explained.

Students said they appreciate the new program and all it has to offer. “What I love about the FFA program is that I learn a lot of things that interest me and tons of new things about agriculture and FFA,” explained student Ethan Snyder.

Student Wyatt Beirlair said he loved the opportunities the program gave him. “When I learned that our school had an FFA, I was delighted. We recently went to an event in Harrisburg called the Mid-Winter FFA Convention, held at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex. Since I am a member of the FFA I have been able to attend this magnificent event. I enjoyed the trip and with all the exciting things happening during the event, I would recommend it to anyone.

Student Landyn Evans said: “I love that it’s a student-run organization and that we can plan our own events and activities which is really fun. I wanted to be part of it because I love agriculture and I thought it would be a great experience to have as a student.

“I love how this program supports local farms and encourages the younger generation to keep farming. I grew up on a farm and love everything about agriculture, which is why I was so excited to join this new program,” added student Gage Waite.

“The involvement you are able to have with people in different places and discover many job opportunities that FFA brings. I joined because it sounded the most interesting and because it would be the most fun,” noted student Rocco Clark.

Ryan H. Bowman