Monday, January 18, 2010

Learning From Agriculture

Agriculture, animal science classes gain a foothold in urban schools
By Jane Coaston
Sunday, Jan. 17 2010

ST. LOUIS — Kara Dalton is attempting to control chaos. It's Monday at the teacher's pre-veterinary science class at Gateway Institute of Technology high school, and that means baths for the dogs, cats, bunnies, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs and one elusive ferret named Riley.

Gateway Institute of Technology, 5101 McRee Avenue, is among a growing number of suburban and urban high schools nationwide offering agricultural and animal science classes. Such classes are also offered at Clyde C. Miller Career Academy in St. Louis and Edwardsville High School, among others in the region.

But the focus isn't predominantly on farming.

Instead, schools are increasingly using animal science as a springboard to teach math, biology and chemistry. Teachers use cats, dogs and guinea pigs as a hands-on way to teach animal physiology and development.

"I feel that specializing in one area, like ours does, will really allow an urban program to grow and be successful," Dalton said. "It doesn't have to be veterinary science. It could be horticulture, biotechnology or food science." Read More

It’s been exciting to see more schools embracing the lessons that agriculture can teach. Everything from responsibility and work ethic to chemistry and algebra can be learned. The perception of farmers being uneducated, unskilled labor is one of the biggest myths about rural America. It’s one of the most complex and challenging careers there is. By having students experience some of these challenges, they will learn lessons that they will carry for the rest of their lives.

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