“Ag-ortunities” in Agricultural Education

When signing up for classes, many students wonder if taking an agriculture class is the right path for them. Many are unsure because they don’t come from an agricultural background or if the science curriculum offers the same information as a standard science class.  The truth is, Ag science is the perfect opportunity for any student to receive the California high school standard science curriculum, while incorporating more hands on projects within the classroom.  Our integrated and biology classes are full of labs and projects, including dissecting small mammals, building volcanoes, hatching chicks, growing produce, and much more!  We offer students an idea of what the agriculture industry is like, in hope to spark an interest in a future career within agriculture.  For many, agriculture means farming, but this industry has become more than just ranchers, it is focused on technology, building machinery, studying DNA, learning about the environment, and the importance of food sustainability.  Our classes also focus on the three circles of Ag: FFA, Classroom, and SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience). This method of teaching allows students to enhance their leadership skills, studies in science, and work on a project of their choice within the Ag industry. With many courses offered, we are sure that our students will find a class that develops their interest in an industry irreplaceable and immensely important with a rapidly growing population. Check below to read some of the class options the Ag Department has to offer!

Ag Integrated Science

Ag integrated science is a course offered as an alternative to Integrated Science (standard science), taken in the first year of high school. In this class, we learn about physics, chemistry, the Earth, space, and embryology with a focus on its application to agriculture. Students will get the chance to build and use different types of models and create their own inferences and ideas. In addition, the course involves a lot of hands-on activities for the students such as: growing vegetables and different flowers, incubating and coloring chicken eggs, and completing an SAE project that is related to a proficiency area of their choice. Students must earn at least four FFA credits, like in other Ag courses, by participating in various events held by members from their own chapter. Those who are enrolled in this class will experience many leadership and team-building activities. The curriculum for Ag science is very similar to Integrated science, although there are many more opportunities to get involved the FFA organization.

A student observing and taking care of chicks that hatched a couple of days prior.
A student observing and taking care of chicks that hatched a couple of days prior.

Small Animal Pre-Vet

Small Animal Pre-Vet is an elective that is excellent for those interested in animals and veterinary care. It mainly focuses on anatomy of small animals and how to improve their health. Also included is a study of different diseases, parasites, and the medications used for them. This class can be taken once per trimester and twice per year. Some of the units involved in part A are Canine, Feline, Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, and Small Rodents. If enrolled in part B, students will focus on learning about Avian and Amphibians/Reptiles. In this class, we will get an opportunity to learn all of the dog and cat breeds as well as basic knowledge on how to care for them. We will also get to do many exciting and fun activities such as, raising rabbits and breeding guinea pigs. Students get the opportunity to show and tell their own pets from home or to use them in different veterinary labs. In addition, they will be taught public relations and communication skills with patients in an office and laboratory skills.

Vet Science students learning basic medical procedures completed daily in any veterinary clinic.
Vet Science students learning basic medical procedures completed daily in any veterinary clinic.

Ag Speech and Communications & Ag Leadership

These are two electives offered throughout the year.  These classes work on students developing their own leadership and public speaking skills.  It is an opportunity for the students who have been involved for a couple years to guide and teach the younger students.  There is a wide variety of speeches, such as, “How To” speeches, where students give a step by step demonstration of a skill they have.  Other speeches include writing about relevant and important topics in agriculture such as social media in the ag industry, biotechnology, and GMO’s.  Many of our students, but not required, work on their individual speaking contest they dedicate themselves to throughout the year. Examples would be job interview, prepared, and extemporaneous.  Each of these speech categories require students to speak and think quickly off the top of their heads and prepare them for real life situations they will face. This class leads into many career pathways within in the Ag industry and outside.  Ag career pathways that Ag Speech and Communications lead to would be managing your own business, working with a company such as John Deere and giving presentations as a sale associate, or working with companies to enhance modern agriculture in a professional setting showing leadership qualities, such as working well with others. The opportunities and skills learned in this curriculum are endless and offer many pathways and options for our students as they become young adults and enter the workforce.

An Ag Speech student presenting a “How To” speech on Judging Livestock.
An Ag Speech student presenting a “How To” speech on Judging Livestock.

The options are endless but each with a purpose, to expose our students to the agriculture industry, prepare them for their next level of science, and to build leaders within our community.  We can’t wait to see our students grow and where the skills they learn in the Ag curriculum will take them.

Written by Freshmen, Zhayle Piurque and Junior, Kalena Cirone