Agriculture Program Helps Students Reach Their Potential
It’s often that students will take learning habits developed in one class and apply them to the rest of their school work. Students participating in Granville High School’s agriculture program are learning that the deeper they get in their course work, the more prepared they are for any learning environment they encounter throughout their academic career.
“Many students aren’t sure what their areas of interest are until we introduce them to it,” says Agriculture Teacher Debora Cahan. “We help them find areas they’d like to explore, and set realistic goals based on learning standards. We also encourage the students to change those goals when they’d like to explore a different area of agriculture.”
Mrs. Cahan is in her fourth year at Granville, but her 11th year overall as an agricultural educator. “My biggest goal for students in our program is for them to use the skills they learn here in any future career or educational pursuits.”
The Granville agriculture program, which is an extension of the national FFA program, follows the three-ring model of classroom instruction: one part leadership, one part classroom instruction, and one part known as supervised agricultural experience (SAE), which consists of hands-on learning outside of the classroom. The program enables students to hone their skills in research methods, career preparation, and public speaking.
High School Senior Kerri Jennings is the current president of the Granville FFA chapter, and she credits the agriculture program for helping her take control of her education. “Personally, I’ve benefited more from the leadership skills, employment skills, and professionalism that I’ve learned through the organization and the opportunities it has provided me,” she said. “Time and time again, I’ve seen classmates come out of their shells in the environment this organization creates.”
“Many students gain an increased sense of leadership, ownership, and confidence in approaching uncertain situations,” said Agriculture Teacher Catlin Goodwin. “It is impossible for the agriculture teachers to be experts and leaders for everything the students do, so we teach students the skills they need to be successful in learning more about their interest areas and sharing them with others.”
Mrs. Cahan and Mrs. Goodwin approach each day in the classroom with ideas and projects specifically designed to help students push themselves academically. Those lesson plans and research projects are helping students like Kerri Jennings find success in other course work they’re doing.
“I think one of the biggest skills the ag program has taught me is to be a problem solver. Sometimes you come to school in the morning and the snakes won’t eat, or your plants look dead, or your dough didn’t rise. Your job is to figure out the problem and execute the plan to fix it and prevent it from happening again,” Kerri said.
“The second line of the FFA motto is ‘doing to learn’, and in my ag classes, I get to learn by doing everyday because of how hands-on the program is.”
Another aspect of the program that Cahan and Goodwin feel is important is for students to understand the world around them. “Students at Granville have the opportunity to stretch their understanding of the world. They can find new careers they never knew existed; meet people with diverse backgrounds from across the region, or state, or country; and understand the connections and applications of their core content area classes to real world problems and solutions,” says Mrs. Goodwin.
For the teachers involved in the agriculture program and the FFA, the true passion of their work is found in the motivation of their students. “This is a program that will help you grow as a student, as a person, and as a leader,” says Mrs. Cahan. “I encourage students thinking about it to speak with our current students.”