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El Paso County Colorado District 49

D 49 agriculture program taking root

The agriculture education program started at Falcon High School in Falcon School District 49 about one year ago, with a goal to start small and build as interest increased. Today, the introductory class has 24 students, and there are students lined up for two new classes that Dave Kranz, agriculture education and Future Farmers of America advisor, will introduce next year.Kranz said that agriculture education is a combination of classroom instruction, the FFA and a supervised agricultural experience, which exposes the students to the working aspect of different factions of the agriculture industry, and introduces them to different careers in agriculture.According to the FFAís website, supervised agricultural experience is a critical part of the total agricultural education program. ìThrough their involvement in the SAE program, students are able to consider multiple careers and occupations, learn expected workplace behavior, develop specific skills within an industry, and are given opportunities to apply academic and occupational skills in the workplace or a simulated workplace environment.îìIn my intro class, we cover the six pathways of agriculture education to give the kids a flavor of what is involved,î Kranz said. ìThe pathways are agriculture mechanics, animal science, plant science, agriculture business, food and food production and natural resources or wildlife management.îKranz said many people assume that agriculture education is only about farming and ranching. ìSome of the biggest Fortune 500 companies are agriculture-related,î he said. ìYou need people to go in and grow things and raise animals, but you also need people to go into the industry that understand the business side of it.îMaddie Rainford, a senior at FHS and the president of the schoolís FFA club, said she has enjoyed the introductory class so far. Learning about every aspect of agriculture, from turf to soil to farming and ranching, has shown her the variety of career possibilities available in the industry, she said.The class has also given her a new respect for how pervasive the industry is, Rainford said. ìNow, I know agriculture is behind the scenes in everything everyone does, from food to clothes to technology,î she said.ìI show horses and live on 5 acres and have grown up around horses. I had always wanted to do something with equine sciences, but now that I am in this class, I found out that I need to major in agriculture business because I can go anywhere in the agriculture industry with that degree. I am going to Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, next year.îHelping students like Rainford find their path is what the program is all about, Kranz said. ìI am trying everything I can to give these kids the opportunity to … leave Falcon High School with something useful,î he said.Kranz said he was selected as one of 15 agriculture education teachers in Colorado to receive training in Denver on residential and commercial irrigation. Next year, he can teach students about what he learned at the training so they can go out and either work in or start their own landscaping business, he said.The following year, he plans to have a veterinary assistant program in place so when students leave the high school, they can immediately test for that certification through Texas A&M University.Currently, the agriculture education program is based out of Kranzís classroom, with additional space behind the schoolís stage, he said. With one grant from the Falcon Education Foundation already secured to pursue an agricultural project and the large number of students interested in the program, Kranz said he plans to obtain more funding to help the program expand.

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