C magazine

Opening students’ eyes to ag industries

A teacher talking to two students

Ag teacher Andrew Jensen opens urban students’ eyes to agriculture in Sioux Falls, S.D., as he introduces them to new career paths.

Jun 08, 2023

By Matthew Wilde

Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in South Dakota, but many students in the state’s largest school district know very little about farming, ranching and other ag industries. The Sioux Falls School District, with the help of the CHS Foundation, is working to change that.

Ag instructor Andrew Jensen was awarded a $10,000 foundation grant to get the urban district’s new ag program off the ground. Students from the city’s four high schools will attend ag classes — natural resources, small animal science, agricultural leadership, etc. — during the inaugural year through the district’s Career and Technical Education Academy. An FFA program is also being started.

“We have noticed our students have a disconnect between where their food comes from and eating it,” Jensen says in his grant application. “The funds will provide the foundation for our ag program and will allow students to jump into plant science and animal science pathways and provide the instructional materials we need.”

Bolstering ag education

Jensen was one of 15 teachers to receive CHS Foundation grants during the 2022 CHS Annual Meeting. The grants provide students with ag education and skills to help feed a growing world. The foundation celebrated its 75th anniversary by awarding $75,000 in grants to teachers to bolster ag education programs at their respective schools.

Three top grants of $20,000, $15,000 and $10,000 were given to support experiential agricultural education and projects that align with the foundation’s purpose to develop new ag leaders. Another 12 honorable mention finalists received $2,500 each.

“We take seriously our role as the giving arm of the leading farmer-owned cooperative,” says Megan Wolle, president, CHS Foundation. “It’s our responsibility and privilege to support programs that get students interested in ag careers.”

Learn more about how the CHS Foundation is helping develop future ag leaders.

Cultivating future ag leaders

Jensen titled his grant proposal “Cultivating Our Future,” and it will do just that. Besides curriculum and material assistance, the funding will help buy a movable high-tunnel structure and related equipment to increase the ag program’s ability to grow plants, extend the growing season and provide hundreds of students with hands-on experiences in horticulture and plant science.

Funds will also be used to purchase a farrowing pen, rabbit hutches, wireless cameras and other equipment to help raise and observe animals. Students will benefit from putting what they learn in small and large animal science classes to practical use.

“The ability to farrow pigs and raise rabbits will allow students to connect with potential careers in veterinary sciences, food production and much more,” says Jensen. “The addition of livestream cameras will give students across the district a peek inside a world many have never seen before,” including elementary and middle-school students.

Check out the full issue of C magazine with this article and more.

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