Agriculture program coming to Rock Hill

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Seen as challenging, but fun, program for students

For the first time in its existence, the Rock Hill Local School District unanimously voted on April 10 to implement an agriculture program for its students. 

Other than the Collins Career Center, the only other public school in Lawrence County that has an agriculture program is Symmes Valley Local Schools. 

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“We found the program to be applicable demographically, since we are a rural school district,” Rock Hill Middle School principal Jason Owens said. “Naturally, many of our teachers and administrators saw this as a challenging, yet fun opportunity for our students not only to learn about agriculture, but also use the concepts taken from it to reinforce achievement in other content areas.” 

Months ago, Rock Hill obtained permission from Symmes Valley to bring multiple staff members there in order to observe their established program. 

This allowed the administrators and staff the opportunity to gain more insight into a potential program that was not yet decided upon.

After a vacant position came open at the middle school this year, teachers gave input in suggesting different courses of study that could be implemented. 

After discussions occurred during a middle school building leadership team meeting, members decided agriculture would be the best fit. 

Likewise, the team felt this would add some excitement, since many Rock Hill students are in 4-H or participate in the Lawrence County Fair.

Moreover, since such a program would affect more than just the middle school, high school principal Dean Nance was asked his opinion and included on the matter. 

After further discussion, he felt this would give students additional options within the curriculum. 

The administration and members of the leadership team pitched the idea to superintendent David Hopper and assistant superintendent Kathy Bowling, all of which were on board. 

They, along with support from a local university consultant, were instrumental in the development of the program. Collins Career Center was also consulted prior to any action being taken and was happy to assist.

There are numerous bands, or paths of study, a school can choose within a grade 7–12 agriculture program. Rock Hill plans to implement the band encompassing agriculture, food and natural resources bioscience. 

The district has decided to start the program at the middle school first, with students continuing additional courses as they enter high school. 

In order to get kids excited, a STEM course that encompasses pre-agriculture will be offered to sixth grade students next year. 

The district anticipates the program to be a success, since it broadens the scope of the current curriculum by incorporating concepts such as, but not limited to business, finance, economics and marketing. 

Everyone at Rock Hill has worked together to bring this program alive. 

All in all, the district is ready to hit the ground running this upcoming school year, while looking forward to growing a concept that was once just an idea.