There is a common misconception that people in the agriculture industry are “uneducated,” Bald Eagle Area agriculture teacher Todd Biddle said.
“But that can’t be further from the truth,” he said. “The reality is that it’s a really rigorous curriculum. In college, you need to pass calculus to continue with that kind of degree. When people think of agriculture, they just think of someone driving a tractor, but it’s so much more than that. They run a business and become content experts and become an expert in the technology they use and have to tackle all of that.”
Starting next school year several new classes will be available at Bald Eagle Area High School to help improve the school’s agriculture program, which is lead by Biddle and fellow teacher Jade Thompson.
Principal Jack Tobias at a board meeting Thursday night unveiled what some of the new classes include He said many are vocational technical-type courses to “help get kids on a career pathway.”
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Some of the classes — animal science, animal production, and forestry and wildlife management — provide interactive and hands-on education.
Other course additions and changes for the 2017-18 school year include business and computer technology, health and physical education, language arts, math, science and social studies.
“It’s something we’ve been looking at for a while because there was a need,” Tobias said.
▪ Animal science is a one-credit course that introduces students to veterinary sciences and the applications of basic animal husbandry principles and practices related to animal health.
▪ Animal production is a one-credit, entry-level course that involves the study of economically-important food and fiber animals.
▪ Forestry and wildlife management is a three-credit course for juniors and seniors that includes two electives and involves the study of state forests, resources and industry with an emphasis on the local environment and habitat.
BEA offers a career pathways program, which requires interested students to take a series of classes that help set them up for the real world.
“The goal of our program is to train students in careers in agriculture,” Biddle said. “They’re learning about the No. 1 industry, and about the food they eat and the clothes they wear and where these kinds of resources come from.”
Not every student is a part of the program, but those who are go through state-approved curriculum.
“It’s really trying to get them the maximum experience to relate to potential career goals, and get them ready for the workforce or postsecondary education,” Biddle said. “(The state Department of Education) requires the district to collect career goals for all students, and we do that, monitor our programs and help set them up for future success.”
The newest career pathway at BEA is in natural resources — just one of two state-approved high school programs in the commonwealth.
“We don’t play agriculture here,” Biddle said. “We practice best agriculture practices, and make sure they’re well-rounded.”
Biddle also said the career pathways program, in all subject areas, helps students determine their interests before going to college.