• Discovering the Many Sides of Agriculture
    Franklin County Schools, Carnesville, GA: What is the best water temperature for growing tilapia? How does land use affect crops? How much profit can you gain from raising swine? What will you say in a public speaking competition? The dedicated teachers in the Agriculture Program at Franklin County Schools help their students discover the answers to these questions and more.
    Franklin Co. Agriculture Students
    Students at the Franklin County Agriculture Center
    Middle school students get a first look at this program with instructor Anna Wilkinson, who started teaching in 2008. “I came up through the Ag program myself, so I know the positive impact it has on a student’s life,” she says. She loves to watch her students open up as they discover their abilities through hands-on projects and competitions. “They apply math and science almost without knowing they are doing it as part of a fun and interesting project. And this program shows them that they can choose from more than 300 agriculture-related careers.”
    Students can continue in the Agriculture Program in high school, with instructors Owen Thomason, Gary Minyard, and Cale Watkins, who together have some 67 years of teaching expertise. Thomason points to strong community support and involvement with FFA as key elements in the program’s success.
    “Our students can take part in career development events and contests. They can win prizes and recognition for their efforts. Basically, they learn everything they need to be successful— math and science, business skills, leadership—no matter what path they take after high school.”
    “We have some great facilities here,” says Watkins. We’ve got about 11 acres that students help maintain. They can learn landscaping and plant science in our greenhouses. They can raise and manage livestock in our holding pens and weaning facilities. They can even raise fish in our aquaculture lab – we can house about 20,000 fish – and have had great success with raising and selling tilapia.”
    Franklin Co. Agriculture Students
    Anna Wilkinson teaching students how to feed cattle.
    Minyard points to the amount of time teachers, employers, and parents spend helping students become successful. “We teach in 90-minute blocks, and students participate in a Supervised Agriculture Experience Program (SAEP) that might be a schoolbased project or a part-time job. They can get very creative. One of my students started her own show pig operation and built it from the ground up. It’s wonderful to see these young people develop and grow.”
    All the instructors agree that the hands-on, practical experience—in combination with focused classroom work—can turn their students into the innovators, entrepreneurs, and good citizens
    of tomorrow.