Farm to School Connections Made on Tour
Agriculture teachers from the Northeast Regional School of Biotechnology and Agriscience and Creswell High School participated in a tour of local farms and Cooperative Extension services in the Washington County area. The tour included time for face-to-face conversations with the people behind the farms. “It’s very important to make connections between our high school agriculture programs and the community,” explained Mac Hodges, tour organizer and area NC Farm Bureau Federation Field Representative. “Many times agriculture teachers relocate to the areas in which they work, putting them at a disadvantage when it comes to knowing the community. Something as simple as taking time to introduce these teachers to the area agribusiness men can open countless doors for ag students.” Hodges has organized these tours for nearly a decade as a part of his role with the NC Farm Bureau Federation. He also serves as a member of the NERSBA Board of Directors and a Future Farmers of America Alumni member. Julia Chandler, a first year Agriculture teacher at NERSBA, was thrilled to get this opportunity. Being from Western North Carolina, Chandler will be taking her love of agriculture and putting it to play in an entirely different setting than what she is accustomed to. “I’ve gotten used to everything being flat here,” she laughed. “These visits showed me a great deal about the way of living on local farms. One farmer is a double amputee and farming 9,000 acres. Nothing stops him. He is just amazing. The people we visited have so much to offer young people interested in agriculture, just be telling their stories.” Jonathan Riggs, who is beginning his second year teaching Agriculture at NERSBA, echoed many of Chandler’s sentiments. “I really enjoyed and appreciated getting to meet with a number of the leading members of the agricultural community in Washington County. It was great to have some dialog with them about what we’re trying to do in our schools’ Ag programs and what they see as needs for the future of farming in their area. There wasn’t a single farmer we spoke to who was not supportive of our work and they all were interested in being invited out to speak to some of our students. A lot of times our students ask such good questions that I can’t answer them, the folks we connected with on our tour will be such a great resource to give an expert answer and explanation to those questions.” The Northeast Regional School of Biotechnology and Agriscience, or NERSBA, serves students from Beaufort, Martin, Pitt, Tyrrell and Washington counties.