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Whigham School is one of only a handful across the state selected for a pilot program where agriculture education will be taught to elementary grade students.
Based on the recommendation of State School Superintendent Richard Woods, the State Board of Education this month approved standards for the ag. education courses to be taught in kindergarten through fifth grade.
“We are excited about bringing this opportunity to our students,” says Zack Wilson, incoming principal of Whigham School.
Whigham agriculture teacher Tracy Champagne served on the task force that created the new ag. program’s standards. The new standards are a direct result of Senate Bill 330, legislation passed in 2018 which provides for a pilot program to develop and implement agricultural education in elementary schools.
Champagne says the program is important.
“I think it’s crucial to bring agricultural literacy and awareness to students of all ages so they learn how important agriculture is to their lives,” she says.
The courses will be offered in 20 elementary schools across the state that were selected for the pilot program last fall.
“I’m thrilled about this work and the opportunity to add agricultural education at the elementary level,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “At the upper levels, our kids have a chance to learn the business and practice of agriculture, but now we can begin to build that understanding for our younger students in an age-appropriate way.”
State Sen. John Wilkinson, a former FFA program manager and agricultural education teacher and current chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs committee, sponsored the legislation.
“Food doesn’t come from the grocery store,” Sen. Wilkinson said. “Four or five generations removed from the farm makes it hard for students to understand where their food really comes from. This new program will help kids understand the powerful impact of agriculture on the prosperity of our state.”
Champagne says, “I’m really excited for the opportunity to start this program at Whigham. I’ve enjoyed working on the task force this year creating the standards and look forward to implementing them in the fall.”
Other schools in this area selected for the program are Quitman Elementary in Brooks County; Hamilton Elementary J.M. Odom Elementary and Norman Park Elementary, all in Colquitt County; Jones Wheat Elementary in Decatur County; and Westside Elementary in Lowndes County.