by Paul Attema
In a recent meeting, PCHS board members voted unanimously to “create an Ad Hoc sub-committee to be 10 or less members with representation from the 4 main board committees to proceed with presenting a VoAg program at the April Society meeting of PCHS.” The ad hoc committee will meet with the specific purpose of working out details for starting an agriculture program. Details include location, class offerings, and funding.
Although the plan is not completed yet, committee members continue to look forward. “The goal would be to haven a full-fledged Vo Ag program here at PCHS offering at least six ag courses, plus our own FFA chapter,” said committee chairman Rick Jansen.
According to Principal Dan Van Kooten, living in an agricultural state creates a specific need that can be filled at the high school level. In the past the absence of an ag program has at times been a deterrent to enrollment for students who are interested in a variety of career options. Those interested in fields such as soil science and plant nutrition in the future would be able to learn more through the planned program.
Van Kooten also feels students without ties to agriculture may also be interested in the program. “Agriculture/FFA appeals to students who may not have any ties to agriculture, since many students participating in other schools do not live on farms or are from families engaged in farming,” he said.
An ag program would also address the long-term need for food production. “As the world population increases, the need for food and energy production is increasing also,” said Jansen. “This program would give our students a great basis for a career in agriculture. The leadership skills that are developed through an FFA program are top notch. They would serve a student well, no matter what career they chose.”
Unfortunately, some of the potential positives are accompanied by challenges. A teacher must be found and class offerings must be discussed. Room in the budget must also be found for the anticipated cost. The monetary challenge is largely tied to the question of an appropriate location. “Is there space in the current facility or is the creation of new space needed?” questioned Van Kooten.
While no time table has been established as of yet, it is predicted that course offerings will begin in the fall of 2017 or 2018. It is hoped that this change will bring about a potential increase in school registration and participation in agriculture. This program might not be of an interest to everybody, but the need is obvious. “There are a number of students and families who are tied to agriculture,” said Van Kooten