The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

March 26, 2014

Van Buren working to save its ag program


Nate Adkins said Central Lee has more than 100 students in vocational agriculture classes. “I think if we could get the faculty and administration to tell kids that you don’t have to grow up on a farm to take vocational agriculture, you will have kids take the classes. I think it helps everyone,” said Adkins.

"I have two kids interested in vocational agriculture,” said Lisa Denny. “And they don’t want to go to Fairfield. My daughter chose her career path based on agriculture classes. Van Buren is an agriculture community.”

Garrett Filson, president of the Van Buren FFA, said, “We have a lot of fun in our program. We would have a lot more people in the classroom if it weren’t for the scheduling conflicts. If more people understood the program, we would have more students and they would have fun like we are.”

Jennifer Gardner, the program’s instructor said, “At the last board meeting, the board voted to request more information. Since then the administration has explored other programs. Superintendent Ewell has never attended an ag class and Principal Banks, for the first time in three years, attended a class March 4 for an evaluation.” Gardner said she checked into teaching college-level credit classes “and I was told I am very qualified to teach them. I have a B.S. and master’s degree.”

The state requires four years of English, although some students might get done with their English requirement sooner “if they doubled up their courses,” she said. She outlined the other requirements in science and vocational areas and also the challenges of infusing agriculture in a science class, as it relates to the common core. All this leads to problems the school has in setting up the master schedule and trying to minimize conflicts with other electives, Schuck said.

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