The agricultural education program at York High School in York, Neb., is one of only six agricultural education programs nationwide to receive the 2018 National Association of Agricultural Educators Outstanding Middle/Secondary Agricultural Education Program Award, given at the NAAE annual convention in San Antonio on November 28.
The York Agriculture Program serves students in 6-12th grade and is managed by two agricultural educators, Cal Williams and Jason Hirschfield. With the program comprised of 58 percent of the school district’s students, there are a variety of course options to meet the interests of all students. Classes within the middle and high schools cover such topics as agronomic science, leadership and ethics in agriculture, animal biology, animal and vet science, companion animals, natural resources, precision agriculture, crop science, structural systems, basic wood skills, and welding.
Due to the growth and development of this agriculture program, new lab and shop facilities have been added on campus, and many classes taught now offer dual credit for the students. Many students also have the opportunity to participate in local internships at various businesses. In order to continuously provide students with the opportunities they seek, it is the mission of the York Agriculture Program to monitor the needs of the students and community while adjusting the program accordingly. This provides students with the skills and agricultural knowledge required for the ever-changing agriculture industry.
Through Supervised Agriculture Experiences, students have the opportunity to form and develop agricultural projects or businesses outside of school, helping forge additional connections within the community. Such projects may include students volunteering at the outdoor community garden, working booths at various farmers markets, breeding and selling rabbits for local farms and stores, caring for livestock animals, and running the school greenhouse. By creating and managing their SAEs, students are able to explore opportunities the agriculture industry has to offer, and potentially discover career options in the process.
“This program is one of our shining stars not only within our school district, but our community as well. Our agricultural education program provides tremendous opportunities for students of all backgrounds. The partnerships that are created within our community are far-reaching and highly impactful for all,” said Dr. Michael Lucas, Superintendent of York Public Schools.
Each of the six regional Outstanding Middle/Secondary Program Award winners was recognized at the NAAE convention in San Antonio. The Outstanding Middle/Secondary Agricultural Education Program Award is partially sponsored by Bayer as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.
NAAE is the professional association for agricultural educators with over 8,000 members nationwide. Its mission is “professionals providing agricultural education for the global community through visionary leadership, advocacy and service.” The NAAE office is located in Lexington, Kentucky.