'Ag Science Education Is More than Plows, Cows and Sows'
November 24, 2020 — Thanksgiving celebrations will be held in homes across America this week, and when families and friends gather together, the day's centerpiece event — the meal — is only possible because of agriculture.
"The food and textiles on the table, and even the wooden table itself, are ag-related," said Kristy Matthies, Midland High Ag Science Teacher and FFA Advisor.
Midland High and Lee offer a number of ag programs. In total, more than 400 students are taking ag courses this year at each campus. Perhaps the best-known offerings are in Ag Science, where students learn about livestock production, the principles of agricultural production and veterinary medicine.
"Ag Science education is more than plows, cows and sows," said Danielle Taylor, Lee Ag Science Teacher and FFA Advisor. "These courses really open students' eyes to just how important agriculture is and how it affects so many parts of our way of life."
Ag Mechanics introduces students to welding with a focus on how this highly sought-after skill is useful in a farm and ranch setting, and it can lead to the welding technician pathway.
Perhaps the most popular offering under the ag umbrella of courses is floral design. More than 100 students are enrolled in these courses at each high school. "Floral design is great for students who have a natural eye for artistry," Matthies said.
All students are encouraged to participate in the National FFA Organization. FFA offers students the opportunity to hone many skills through a variety of competitions. In addition to animal showing, there are also business and communications competitions such as job interviewing and creating ag-focused public service announcements.
Over the weekend, Midland High FFA students took first and second place in a senior quiz competition and finished first in the "greenhand" quiz. On Nov. 14, Lee students competed locally in the Tall City Showdown, a showing competition sponsored by the Midland Lee FFA Booster Club. All competitions aim to not only test students' ag knowledge, but to develop leadership skills.
"The leadership skills a student learns participating in FFA will help them achieve their career goals," said Taylor, who was the president of her FFA chapter in high school. "When prospective employers see a candidate has FFA credentials, they know that the student has a great work ethic. FFA is great for networking and commands high respect."