Ag academy draws interest from Farm-City committee members

Published 3:00 am Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Farm-City Committee of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce is continually looking for ways to promote agriculture locally and across the state. So, when Beth Rose committee member, shared information about a unique educational opportunity being offered at Goshen High School, Randy Hale, committee chairman, realized the potential for promotion.

“Goshen High School is the only place in the state that has an academy for agriculture,” Hale said. “When I learned about the Agriscience Academy at Goshen High School, I thought the Farm City Committee would be a natural to promote it. When discussing the idea at a Farm City Committee meeting, it was noted that several members of the committee, Carol Dorrill, Deborah Huggins-Davis and Beth Rose, had been asked to serve as advisory board members for the Ag Academy.”

Hale said the Farm-City Committee expressed an interest in touring the Ag Academy. A tour was arranged and conducted by Jamie Rich, academy director; Cody Eiland, instructor; and Jeff McClure, coordinator of academies for the Pike County School System.

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Dr. Mark Bazzell, Pike County Schools superintendent, explained the origin of the agriculture academy to the visiting Farm-City Committee members.

Bazzell said he was with a group of about 40 Troy City and Pike County educators, business and industry leaders who visited 10 academies in Florida. The seeds for local academies were planted during that weeklong trip.

Goshen is the home of the Agriscience Academy and Pike County High is home of the Business and Finance Academy and Performing Arts Academy.

Bazzell said these academic academies exist in specific program areas and introduce students to broad career opportunities while teaching them practical job skills and real world knowledge. The academies provide students with industry related courses of study and prepare them for future studies in higher education.

Students enroll in a specific area and attend classes for such in the morning and then attend regular school classes in the afternoons.

“Dr. Bazzell explained that the dual enrollment process enables a student to attend high school classes and fully transfer accredited college credits also,” Hale said. “This is available their sophomore year in high school. By successfully completing all required courses, a student will receive a high school diploma and an associate’s of science degree in general education with an agriscience concentration. This credit would be fully transferable to Auburn University.

Upon successful completion of thee semesters and a summer there, a student could earn a bachelor of science degree in agriculture.”

Presently 19 students are enrolled in the program in agriculture. Course opportunities include introduction to animal dairy science, orientation to agricultural operations, vegetable and orchard crops, special topics in horticulture, residential landscape design and agriculture equipment repair and maintenance.

“The Pike County Farm-City Committee has added the Agriscience Academy to it list of projects and plans to promote it fully,” Hale said.

The committee members that also represent other agriculture groups are James O. Johnson, Pike County Cattlemen; Rebecca Wilkes, Pike County Cattlewomen; Steve Stroud, Pike Farmers Federation chair; Boyd Deal, Farmers Federation Southeast Alabama; Deborah Huggins-Davis, Pike Treasure Forest and Pike Soil and Water Conservation District; Emily Rolling, Pike 4-H Program; Heath Wesley, Cooperative Extension System; Jeff Knotts, Farm Service Agency.