Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences

I had a wonderful opportunity during the National United States VALOR Seminar to visit and tour the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences attracts students from all parts of the city. The school was established in 1984 when there was a great concern about the future of Agriculture Education, the agricultural industry in general, and the shortage of college graduates to fill the growing need for new professionals in agricultural sciences and business.
Chicago High School for Agricultural Science is the only one of its kind in the Midwest. It offers a unique opportunity to urban students who are talented in science and mathematics. The school combines academic learning environment with hands-on practice in a way that maximizes student success and creates a positive learning environment that supports the integration of the academic and agricultural programs. Their goal is to create competent and literate citizens.
I was really impressed by the students and their engagement into the learning process. One of our tour guides stated, “In this school learning makes sense. We are learning geometry in the classroom which is important but what is more important, is that I am using geometry in my agricultural mechanics pathway. I have to understand angles when I am constructing buildings, or when I am designing structures to be built. I can honestly say everything we are learning in our core classes we apply in the agriculture pathway.”
As we walked the hallways and toured the classes and the various agriculture pathways areas (agricultural mechanics, plant science, animal science, food science, agriscience, or agribusiness) I was astonished by the depth and scope of the projects the students were completing. One project was using the waste products from the fish to feed the basil plants that they used in the food lab. The student was figuring the amount of converted nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium in the solution and what was being used directly by the plant. Another student was raising baby chicks. He was feeding 3 different feed rations and determining which ration had the most weigh gain and maintained the chick health. He was looking at an organic, commercial, and one of his own. In addition, I saw students conducting horse therapy lessons with students with disabilities. The school had a community store. This store sold items that directly came from students. The items could be vegetables they raised in the school garden, fruits from the orchard, plants from the greenhouse, honey from the hives, eggs from the chickens, food items that they baked, canned, or created in the food laboratory, basically any item that was created or constructed by the students could be sold in this store. The revenue from the store is used to fund FFA CDE’s, National and State Convention Trips and other student activities. Everywhere I looked I saw involvement above and beyond the typical high school student striving for an advance diploma. How wonderful.How awesome.

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