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Youth News

New FFA Chapter Coming to Piedmont

Thu, 03 Mar 2022 04:31:28 CST

New FFA Chapter Coming to Piedmont In an Article written by Cara Pattison in the PiedmondNewOnline, we found out that Blue and Gold is coming to Piedmont!

Blue and gold corduroy jackets will soon be hitting city streets with the addition of a new Agriculture Education program and FFA chapter joining Piedmont Public Schools.

In the fall of 2021, school administration surveyed Piedmont's middle and high school students to discover their interest in various courses. One of the questions asked was if they'd like to be a student in an agriculture education program, and the response was an overwhelming "yes," Piedmont Public Schools Superintendent Dr. James White said.

"Ag Ed programs get more kids involved in community service and leadership. I am looking forward to seeing some of our kids learning about agriculture and participating in such activities as land and meat judging, horticulture projects and speech and debate," he said. "It's not just about showing an animal or living on a farm. There's just a lot a teacher can do to get students involved."

At the state-level, CareerTech Program Specialist Kurt Murray received notice from White that interest in an agriculture education program in the Piedmont district was strong, and he's been working with school administration to get the ball rolling.

"Piedmont Public Schools' student survey showed strong interest and support. It was north of 100-125 students surveyed that said they wanted to be in an agriculture education program," Murray said. "Piedmont's superintendent, Dr. White previously came from a school that had Ag Ed and he knows the value of the program.

'We all agree there is a lot of potential for this to grow pretty quickly in Piedmont," he said.

Similar to Family and Consumer Sciences (FACSED) and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) courses offered through CareerTech, Agriculture Education programs are offered through the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education in Stillwater, Murray said.

"Currently, there are 364 agriculture education programs in Oklahoma we work closely with our K-12 partners to offer these programs in their schools," he said. "Agriculture Education is the coursework and teacher in the classroom and FFA is the student organization.

"The teachers in Agriculture Education programs are K-12 school district employees, but CareerTech provides the schools with the curriculum, teacher job applicants, yearly program funds and a teacher salary supplement to make the programs successful," Murray said. "We also make school visits and evaluate the programs to ensure it meets our quality standards and requirements; in addition, we help the teachers get students involved in our student organization, FFA."

Not only is support strong from the state and the school, but community members are buzzing about the new program, Piedmont High School alumni and Canadian County Fair Board Swine Superintendent Don Payne said.

"Piedmont offered Agriculture Education classes until the 1980s, when they were shut down. I'm thrilled Piedmont wants to bring this back. What a benefit to our community! Kids and parents will undoubtedly get involved here. My kids were heavily involved in the Yukon FFA chapter back in the day, and I helped them out as a parent quite a bit. I even started the rodeo for the Yukon Chapter to bring in some money for the Ag Boosters," Payne said.

"Not to mention, the Fair Board is excited about Piedmont getting a new program because it will increase the number of animals coming to our livestock shows and kids participating in fair activities pretty drastically," he said.

As CareerTech's longtime agriculture program expert that works with one-fourth of the state's Ag Programs, Murray agrees with Payne.

"For several years, I've hoped they would bring their program back. It's a location that has everything there that could have a really good program. On the livestock side of it, there are a lot of people that already have a vested interest in the program lots of farmers, kids showing animals, and even a former ag ed teacher living in the community," he said.

Pandemic-related delays slowed the process, but Piedmont Public Schools is now putting their plan in place for the new agriculture education program. Teacher interviews are currently in process, White said.

"In the fall, students in grades 8-12 will have the option of taking the class as their elective. We are gearing up for 2022-2023 school year enrollment now," the superintendent said. "Eighth graders will have the option of enrolling in Exploratory Agriculture as an elective.

"There are currently 1,200 students at PHS in grades 9-12, and next year we predict there will be 100 more students," White said. "They will be given the option to take the Agriculture I course as their elective starting in the fall of 2022 there won't be an ag barn or shop initially, but I think this program will grow into it. We will get there if student enrollment sustains itself."



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