The second Kanawha County Schools Agriculture Education Program Forum will take place Tuesday, June 5, at 6 p.m. at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Charleston. The free event, organized by AmeriCorps VISTA Jeremy Brannon, will feature a discussion on the importance of installing a comprehensive Agriculture Education Program in a local high school.
Additional discussion topics will focus on how having such a program can result in more young people pursuing higher education degrees, make Kanawha County more commercially marketable and create new young Ag entrepreneurs, community impacts, and the economic benefits of having one.
Speakers include West Virginia Department of Education’s Agriculture, Science and Natural Resources Cluster Assistant Director Jason Hughes; West Virginia Department of Agriculture’s Deputy Commissioner Joe Hatton; Buzz Food Service President Dickinson Gould; Kanawha Farm Bureau President Clay Bailey; Herbert Hoover High science teacher Richard Parsons; and Ripley High School’s AgMechanics teacher Craig Canterbury and FFA (formerly Future Farmers of America) chapter. A question and answer session will follow the panel discussion.
"Agriculture can and will play a huge role in diversifying West Virginia’s economy in the coming years, and growth in the industry will offer many opportunities for farmers and entrepreneurs,” said Buzz Food Service president, Dickinson Gould. “To prepare for those opportunities, students in Kanawha County deserve access to agricultural training resources as soon as possible. An agriculture program at the high school level can provide students with relevant job skills training, preparing them for careers.”
Young people participating in high school agriculture education programs and FFAs tend to be more likely to graduate high school and pursue higher education. Kanawha County Schools currently has a 10-month Pet Grooming and Plant Systems program and an FFA chapter at Carver Career Center available to high school students. The only high school interested in installing an agriculture education program on their campus is Herbert Hoover.
"The ultimate goal for a second Agriculture Education Program is to design one that’s multifaceted: AgScience meets AgBusiness meets AgMechanics with some animal processing thrown into the mix,” said Jeremy Brannon, AmeriCorps VISTA with West Virginia State University Extension Service. “The more skills young people have, the more employable they'll become and the more commercially marketable Kanawha County will be to agriculture businesses who might want to set-up shop in the county, invest in our communities and literally grow the economy.
Ultimately, the decision as to what kind of Agriculture Education program is pursued will be up to the students and school, Brannon said. The event is free and open to the public. Agriculture businesses, restaurateurs and educators are strongly encouraged to attend.
The event will take place in the ReStore’s John L. Dickinson Homeowner Education & Community Center room. Parking is available across the street from Green’s Feed and Seed. For more information, contact AmeriCorps VISTA Jeremy Brannon at (304) 720-1401 or firstname.lastname@example.org