Mark Childs has been principal of Hagerstown High School for more than three decades. He's thrilled that many days this winter, he and students alike could go to the cafeteria and get one of the tastiest hamburgers you will find anywhere. The hamburger came from animals raised on the school farm. Nathan Williamson, an ag instructor there, helped obtain grants to start the program.
Now the second phase is starting. They will soon erect a barn for the cattle to better care for them year-round. They are also ready to explore technology that is cutting-edge, and teach students at the same time.
Williamson says a grant just received recently will allow them to equip their cattle on pasture with GPS receivers. The goal is to study grazing habits. Every motion of the animal's head will be recorded. Williamson and Kara Hendrickson, the other ag teacher at the school, recently visited Purdue University to get more training in preparation for the project.
What does Childs think? "We think it is great," he says with a smile. "The ag business (education) community is very good at helping teachers get the instruction and materials they need, especially young teachers.
"This technology project will be great because our students will be exposed to cutting-edge technology."
Hagerstown isn't the only school getting grants to do innovative things in agriculture education. Stefany Deckard of the Indiana Department of Education recently announced that South Newton and North Newton High Schools would be dividing a $400,000 grant received for specific technology projects at the two high school ag departments.
While not all details are available yet, it appears that the Newton County schools and the vo-ag instructors there will focus on studying and developing technologies related to drones, also called UAVs, and their use in agriculture. Students there will also get a firsthand look at new technology.