Magazine article District Administration

Farm Ed Sprouts in Concrete Jungle

Magazine article District Administration

Farm Ed Sprouts in Concrete Jungle

Article excerpt

Barely five miles from the hustle and bustle of LaGuardia Airport in Queens, students at John Browne High School in Flushing are plowing and tilling a field, tending to chickens and picking apples to sell.

While John Browne is the only New York City high school with a dedicated agriculture department, many other urban schools--such as Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences and Walter Biddle Saul High School in Philadelphia--offer farming programs, with more likely to follow.

Schools are increasingly adding agriculture education, or "ag ed"--about 12,000 agriculture educators teach programs in the U.S., says a National Association of Agricultural Educators survey.

In New York, the state education department received requests to create 65 ag-ed programs with certified ag teachers last year. And school administrators expect the number to grow.

Interestingly, more ag-ed programs are appearing in urban areas, says Jay Jackman, executive director at the National Association of Agricultural Educators. "Many rural schools already offer ag education, so they don't have room to add new programs," he says.

Urban schools don't particularly need farmland because most agriculture courses cover subjects beyond traditional production farming, such as food science, urban forestry, greenhouse management and aquaculture.

Ag ed doesn't necessarily prepare students to become farmers, says Jackman. It teaches applied science and math courses through lab instruction, experiential learning and leadership development. …

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