A new era in agricultural learning is about to begin at Springfield Public Schools

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Classes for Springfield Public Schools begin on Monday, August 22, and when they do, one of the essential aspects of Missouri’s economy will finally be offered as a magnetic curriculum to students. elementary school for the first time.

Agriculture.

“We have an environmental science track at Hillcrest with an FFA chapter,” explained Kelsey Brabo, director of elective programs at SPS. “We also have a very strong farm to school program where we teach care and maintenance of our school gardens. But it will be the first fully immersive elementary farming program.

Located in the Missouri State Agricultural Facility just off the Kansas Highway, the new AgAcademy is shaped like a giant silo and was built at $6.7 million, most of which came from from the Darr Family Foundation.

The circular-shaped building gets bigger as it curves, and everything, down to the angles at which the sun shines through the building, is done with agriculture in mind.

“The angles you see are not arbitrary. They are informed by the sun,” says Tyler Hellweg, the building’s architect. “Where the sun rises at certain times of the year corresponding to the first day of school. Or where the sun might set during the day, you have to plant a certain crop.

The building includes classrooms, a greenhouse, specially equipped kitchens, a chicken coop and a yard. And while Missouri State owns the land, Springfield Public Schools will run the magnet program as a way to interest elementary school students in pursuing careers in agriculture.

The AgAcademy will be offered to 100 4th and 5th graders this year and extended to 50 6th graders next year.

“This year, these students will learn everything they should be learning as fourth and fifth graders in Springfield public schools through the lens of agricultural education,” Brabo said. “They’re going to have ties to plant and soil science, animal husbandry, animal science, and all of those amazing life skills that agriculture brings to students, such as leadership, service learning and positive contributions to our community.”

The AgAcademy is one of five Choice programs within the state’s largest school district, where focused themes and aligned curriculum provide students with access to unique learning opportunities driven by their passion.

“We have WOLF (nature and outdoors), the Academy of Exploration (science and exploration), the Academy of Fine and Performing Arts (drama, theater, dance, singing, etc.) and the Academy of Health Sciences (health care),,” Brabo said. “And now the AgAcademy.”

During a recent visit to the AgAcademy, Governor Mike Parson, himself a farmer, spoke about the evolution of the industry and the importance of this school.

“It’s not about how my grandfather farmed, or my father farmed, or how I farm anymore,” he told the crowd. “You must be a lot smarter than we were. It’s not about being in the field checking the cows and feeding the hay. It’s about the business side of farming around the world and how Missouri can compete. Almost every commodity in the state of Missouri is in the top 10 in the United States. These kids need to know how agriculture works and why it is the heart and soul of this state.

“You need accounting information,” added SPS Superintendent Grenita Lathan. “You have to understand how the financial aspects work and how organizations work. Most farms used to be family owned and operated, but now farmers are hiring employees.

“There is technology to help you get the most out of the soil or your animals,” Missouri State University president Clif Smart said. “There are so many levels in what is now a very sophisticated business, and the Darr College of Agriculture (MSU’s college program) is a big part of that. And this nurturing school will help this college to grow.

“Agriculture is probably mankind’s oldest industry,” Brabo said. “It is also the most changing and technical industry. So when students come to AgAcademy, they’re really going to be exposed to a robust industry. This could mean everything from vast acres of land to full farming experiences in your backyard with alternative cultivation methods.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new AgAcademy on Wednesday allowed the general public, city leaders and school officials to tour the facility and the first-ever class of agriculture students to take a peek with their parents.

“You are giving us an unparalleled opportunity,” Barbo said while addressing the new students at the ceremony. “It is for you that we have spent years working to create this program. And it is with you that we will learn and develop this program together.

A new era in education, sowing the seeds of future leaders in agriculture, begins Monday.

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