Indee to bring back ag ed, FFA after 50 year absence - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Indee to bring back ag ed, FFA after 50 year absence

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INDEPENDENCE (KWWL) -

Agriculture is the backbone of Iowa's economy.  So many schools find ag education an important cornerstone of the classroom experience.  That's why students in the Independence School District are planting the seeds to bring FFA and ag classes back.

Miles across eastern Iowa are occupied by fields of golden grain.  So it's a bit surprising that in the heart of it all, agriculture education classes have been absent from the Independence School District for almost 50 years.  But that's about to change.

"Agriculture's in my blood.  So FFA coming to school... I was very happy that I could help out with it," said Mark Thompson, an Independence student.

Thompson and classmate Garrett Prusator were driving forces in convincing the Independence School Board to bring ag education back.  The pair says having classes like animal science and agronomy, coupled with an FFA program, will be valuable to all students.

"The leadership that comes out of FFA, everything about that will really make our community a better place," Thompson said.

"It'll help if I need to go out and get a job somewhere else, I'll know the skills that are necessary there," Prusator said.

The ag program will be brought back in the 2013-14 school year, housed inside flex space planned at the new junior-senior high school, which ground will be broken for this spring.

The new school will be built just off 1st Street on what's currently a corn field.  The space not occupied by the building will be kept as farm ground.  Then the profit from that crop will be turned over to the new ag program, making it self-sustaining.

"The local farmers are donating all their time and their equipment.  We have local businesses who are offering the seed and the fertilizer.  We'll take this first year's crop and put it in the bank.  And that's just our kick off, our seed money," said Jennifer Sornson, Independence High School principal.

The district's keeping its corn price estimate very conservative so that the crop can easily keep bankrolling the new ag ed program for many years to come.

And get this:  having an FFA program can benefit academic performance.  Students found research that shows FFA participants are more likely to score well on their state assessments and show more growth in science and math.

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