While schools in some parts of the country are cutting agriculture science programs, one of North Texas’ largest and most suburban districts says its program is flourishing.
Frisco ISD offers agriculture science programs in all ten high schools and at its Career and Technical Education Center.
“I advocate for ag because I know that it’s so important, even in that urban setting,” said Agriculture Science Teacher Megan Pruett.
Pruett says the animal and horticulture classes offer hands-on science lessons. There is also an opportunity to learn business. Students have to consider feed budgets and figure out how to take care of the animals they raise.
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“They feed the animal, they take care of the animal and by the end of the year, the animal is ready to go to the market,” Pruett said.
“They have to drive to this facility twice a day, even in the rain, sleet and snow,” added Pruett. “It’s responsibility, it’s entrepreneurship in the business world, it’s an array of different skills that they learn.”
While some students express an interest in continuing agriculture studies past high school, others find other value in the classes.
Paige Musselman started taking agriculture classes her freshman year at Wakeland High School because she was drawn to the animals, but decided against pursuing a veterinary medical education in the future. Instead, she says she’s learned confidence and team building.
“I feel like this has helped me a lot in terms of leadership and learning life skills,” said Musselman.
She started out raising rabbits her freshman year and graduated to goats in 10th grade.
“I have to be here every day doing this,” Musselman said. “Always doing your best is the main thing I get out of it.”
Thursday, she was preparing one of her goats, Oswald, for the Collin County Junior Livestock Show where students from Allen, Plano, Farmersville, Anna, Princeton, Blue Ridge and others compete. The week long show includes young people from more than a dozen Collin County FFA and local 4H chapters.
Throughout the week, students show poultry, swine, rabbit, horticulture, shop projects, sheep, goats and cattle.
“It’s just like any other sport,” said Carly Whitworth. “This is like our UIL area competition.”
Whitworth, a senior at Rick Reedy High School in Frisco, says she helped start her school’s Future Farmers of America chapter with 16 members. Whitworth says it’s grown to 160.
“Everyone’s like 'Frisco? I didn’t think they had FFA,'” Whitworth said. “It’s cool to see people’s reactions when they realize we actually make an impact in the FFA and we have pretty active chapters.”
Frisco’s chapters are also competitive.
Thursday, Whitworth won Grand Champion Lightweight with her goat, Cash.
“Putting in so much time and effort - it finally pays off,” Whitworth said.
A life lesson learned outside the classroom and in the barn.