A Different Kind of Classroom: Hands-on and Arms-in with Ag Sci
by Alecia Vandenberg, High School English
It’s 8:58am on a Tuesday morning. First period is almost done as senior Darren Fagundes strolls into the office. Is he late? Shirking his education responsibilities? Not at all. He was on an Ag Sci (Agricultural Science) field trip that started at 7:00am – an hour and 15 minutes before school even starts.
The Ag Sci class was visiting Rancho Sierra Vista Dairy to practice evaluating genetic traits of cows.
“It is easier to see traits in person than on a photo. We also have three experts working with the kids on site that we cannot get at school,” commented Ag Sci teacher Nick Richardson.
In addition to today’s field experience, the Ag Sci class visits packing plants, orchards, bee farms, and dairies to see multiple facets of the Ag industry here in the valley. When Mr. Richardson isn’t taking his crew on field trips, he has frequent guest speakers come to class, providing direct insight into specific areas of local agriculture.
“[Visiting local dairies and farms] makes it easier to learn because it’s actually interesting to me and I can apply it to real-life situations.” added Darren. “I took this class because I knew it would be practical and hands-on – that we’d see stuff in person instead of on a whiteboard or a computer screen.”
Practical, hands-on field trips have been an integral part of the Ag Science class for as long as it has been taught. CVC alum Ashlyn De Groot remembers her experience fondly:
“It was one of those classes that was easy to learn from because it was fun and was very hands on. It’s a great way to get a taste of the many parts of [agriculture].” She remembers learning about soil and farming and even had the “hands-in” learning opportunity to artificially inseminate a cow!
This is just one example of CVC students learning from local industry experts and participating in activities designed to mimic real-world experiences. Shop teacher Kurt Saltzman’s class has designed and built equipment for local law enforcement agencies. Kevin Langmaack’s art class has created murals and painted them on walls both here at CVC and in the greater community. English teacher Mike Hackbarth has come alongside students interested in writing and helped them revitalize the school newspaper.
All of these experiences help CVC students connect their academic experience on campus with real-life application in the local community. It’s yet another part of CVC’s commitment to academic excellence – a part that encourages students to connect learning with everyday living even past their time here at CVC.