Agriculture workshops provide curriculum ideas
Craig — To prepare their students for life after high school, agriculture teachers gathered in Craig to learn a few things themselves.
Thursday, a group of five agriculture teachers from around the state stood in a semi-circle at the Moffat County High School agriculture building, watching a demonstration of a new sprinkler system.
Someday, their students might take a professional test using those same skills.
The workshop on landscaping education was part of the annual Colorado Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association conference. The statewide organization promotes the professional development of agriculture teachers and programs.
The group included 83 teachers along with Colorado agriculture industry professionals, who put on workshops to give educators new tools to bring back to their students in the fall.
“The idea is to promote our teachers’ professional development,” CVATA President Greg Cash said. “Here, we’re able to pick up skills that we can all bring back to our respective classrooms.”
At the landscaping workshop, teachers learned a curriculum that could prepare students for jobs after high school.
High school agriculture students might take their skills back home to the family farm or business, but there are other related opportunities, such as landscaping design and management, that can open doors, said Becky Garber, marketing and communications director for the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado.
“We want to develop ties with educators so that agriculture students know about these other opportunities,” Garber said. The landscaping “industry really needs people who come into the work force partially trained, and these kinds of workshops give teachers the chance to expand their programs and give their students job-related skills.”
MCHS agriculture teacher John Haddan said the workshop will help with ideas to expand curriculum and provide his students with life skills.
“We have a horticulture class at the high school, but this stuff is brand new to us,” he said. “It’s great because kids could actually finish the class with a certification in landscaping.”
The Certified Landscape Technician certificate is issued after students take a written and practical test on certain subjects, including plant identification, irrigation control systems and plan drawing.
After the workshops, a dinner ceremony was held to honor years of service in the teaching industry, as well as one teacher of the year.
“Fun is a big component of it,” Haddan said about the conference. “The camaraderie that develops among all of the ag teachers is great. It gives us a chance to introduce ourselves to the younger teachers across the state so they can ask us questions when they need to.”
Haddan and Cash said there aren’t any other specific teaching subjects that hold annual meetings of this scale.
Cash said the group decided to hold the meeting in Craig to get to know the community.
In June of 2010, the National FFA Organization will hold its annual meeting here, bringing more than 2,000 children, along with teachers and parents, to the community.
Haddan said he was proud to be able to hold the conference in Craig, and he looks forward to holding the larger event next summer.
“We’re very proud of Craig,” he said. “Any chance we get to have our colleagues come over to the Western Slope is big for us.”
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