Garfield Re-2 expanding its agriculture programs
The Garfield Re-2 agriculture programs are growing. They aren’t growing crops, or animals. Next year, they are growing in size and numbers.
As part of the adoption of the Garfield Re-2 four-year road map, the Garfield Re-2 Board of Education approved an additional position that will introduce agriculture classes to Coal Ridge High School. These classes will work with Rifle High School agriculture teacher Brad Bessey to further expand what is being offered.
“Any Coal Ridge High School student that would like can take a variety of classes at Rifle High School like auto shop and ag,” explained CRHS assistant principal Jackie Davis. “But participation isn’t that high due to the logistics of traveling and arranging class schedules. The addition of agriculture classes at Coal Ridge will open up a pathway and fill a need in our building. These are classes that many of our students have an interest in but we haven’t been able to offer.”
Next year, pending board approval at the May 9 school board meeting, Miranda Wilson will fill the new full-time agriculture position that will likely spend mornings at Coal Ridge and afternoons at Rifle High. All of the scheduling and the details of the position have not yet been finalized. Wilson is currently a science teacher at Coal Ridge, but her passion is agriculture.
“I’ve really enjoyed teaching science but to be able to go back to my roots and teach what I’m passionate about is really exciting,” she explained.
Wilson grew up participating in agriculture programs and Future Farmers of America as a student at Fruita-Monument High School.
“I was involved in everything — FFA, horse judging, floriculture,” Wilson said.
After high school, she graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in equine science and received her teaching degree from the University of Arizona. When the districtwide agriculture position came open, she could not have been more excited.
“I said, ‘That is what I want to do! Sign me up.’ I wanted to be a part of that immediately,” Wilson explained.
Even though the program has not even begun, Wilson has big plans to support the agriculture programs throughout the district.
“It would be my goal to see the program grow into animal science, veterinary science, floriculture and equine science,” Wilson said. “Even a construction class so that kids that may not be going to college will have developed skills after they graduate.”
She hopes to grow the FFA program, as well.
“FFA was my life because it had so many opportunities. Students can have experiences with animals, welding, construction, floriculture, leadership. They compete and hone their skills. It is a great opportunity for kids to be involved.”
Wilson is also excited to support the existing Rifle High School program.
Rifle High School Principal Todd Ellis explained that the new position will support his current agriculture program by allowing students to have agriculture offerings all four years of their academic career and support the growth of the FFA program.
“We haven’t had a full-time ag teacher for nine years,” Ellis added.
Current RHS agriculture teacher Brad Bessey’s time has been split between the agriculture classes and vocational classes. He has been very successful in supporting the vocational programs with the help of grant funding. The new position will allow Rifle High to offer a larger line of ag classes for students through all four years of their high school careers.
“It will also allow us to have robust FFA again,” Ellis explained. “When students can’t take an ag class all four years, it is difficult to keep an FFA program going. To wear the blue jacket, you must be in an ag class.”
He added that agriculture classes and FFA are not just about planting crops and animals; an agriculture pathway can lead to many different careers.
“One in five jobs have a connection to agriculture,” Ellis said. “Many people don’t realize what FFA offers and how it can support our students. It can really be a benefit to the community.”
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