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Ag education

GAYS MILLS - I am very excited and pleased to report that the North Crawford School Board recently voted to reinstate agricultural education as part of the junior and senior high school curriculum next year.  As reported in this paper, the program will be a half-time position to start, with the opportunity to grow and develop into a full-time position in the future.

One of the saddest days of my life occurred back in 2003. It should have been a happy day. The North Crawford Board accepted my resignation as I prepared to retire after 26 years at the school and 32 years total in the agriculture teaching profession.  However, later at the same meeting, the board eliminated the agriculture program from North Crawford.  I was blindsided by that decision, never saw it coming, and still don’t understand the logic behind it. Had I known about what the board had planned I would have stayed on until I knew the program would have been handed off to a successor.

For the past 16 years, students at North Crawford have not had the option of taking agriculture classes and participating in FFA activities. All other schools in the surrounding area offer agriculture programs. Statewide and nationwide, agricultural education is alive and well and growing. An entire generation of local young people here have missed out on one of the premier, proven programs in practical education and personal development. Thankfully, the board has now taken steps to correct that situation.

How it happened–in February I received a call from North Crawford science teacher and National Honor Society Advisor Linda Dworschack. She told me that several students would like to have an FFA chapter at North Crawford. I went out to a lunchtime meeting of the group and explained that FFA is an integral part of an agricultural program.

North Crawford senior Grace Corlis explained that it was her idea to pursue an agriculture program. Grace spent her early years in Iowa, where FFA is a part of the fabric of rural life. She began to wonder why it was lacking here. After conducting student surveys that showed a strong interest in agriculture, Grace went to the February school board meeting and presented the case for inclusion of agriculture in the curriculum. Grace used graphs and charts and a handout listing the advantages of agricultural education and FFA. The motion to reinstate agriculture passed unanimously.

I’ve only met Grace a few times. She demonstrates the kind of enthusiasm and leadership that gives me hope for the future. Before the school board meeting she told me, “I won’t be able to take advantage of all that agriculture and the FFA has to offer, but lots of others will.”