Agriculture is a vital component of the local economy and now Gering students will learn and play a role in its future.
Gering Public Schools Board of Education recognized the benefit of an agriculture program for students and passed an agriculture curriculum at Gering High School for the 2020-2021 academic year.
During the curriculum report, board member Mary Winn spoke about the program need.
“We appreciate the need for agriculture and we hope to have a program in place by next year,” Winn said.
The board moved to unanimously approve the agriculture curriculum for the next school year.
“I think this is a really good time to do this,” Winn said.
The board discussed how perfect the timing is for this curriculum implementation and the advantage for Gering High School with principal Rocky Schneider’s former experience with agriculture curriculum. There was also discussion about Schneider’s ideas to utilize the space on the north side of GHS. They believe there is great potential on the north side of the proposition greenhouses. The board also discussed providing opportunities to construction students to create those structures for enhanced, hands-on learning.
Board member Brent Holliday shared the value for students and the community.
“I’m excited for Gering to have an FFA program and to develop an ag program,” Holliday said. “It’s going to be really important to partner with some of the ag-related businesses in town and I know there’s some anticipation of doing that.”
While Gering Public Schools previously had an agriculture curriculum in the early 2000’s, board member Brian Copsey said the timing to re-establish a top notch program has arrived.
“I think the timing for the district is coming together with the leadership at the high school and Rocky’s (Schneider) experience with ag program and work to put that curriculum in place,” Copsey said.
The board was energized by this step forward with the agriculture program, especially with how the curriculum establishment aligns with the high school’s implementation of other career pathways.
Knowing there has been public interest for several months, the board has been working behind the scenes sending out student surveys and exploring curricula options to make it successful.
“We’ve worked to put a curriculum in place and want to make sure we have a foundation laid before we open up an FFA program,” Copsey said. “We’re going to have some really great opportunities.”
The district will begin advertising for an agriculture teacher within the next few weeks both locally and on the state website with the hope of having a teacher hired by February or March.
Board president BJ Peters acknowledged the public’s role in this process for bringing this need for students to them.
“We needed you’re gentle nudge to get us off dead center,” Peters said. “We thank you.”
For Shain Shimic, a parent of Gering students, he was pleased with the board’s decision.
“We’re an Ag-based community,” Shimic said. “There’s many needs and it’s important for kids to see the opportunities that are here.”
Shimic is excited for two of his children, who are 8th graders and will get to experience this new pathway from inception.
As the search for a teacher begins, the path of the new curriculum remains an open palette, but principal Rocky Schneider and Superintendent Bob Hastings will be diligent in finding the right person.
Hastings said the priority is now hiring a qualified teacher who has the passion to begin this new pathway. Once the district has hired that teacher, he said they will work with them to determine curriculum materials and a budget.
There are classrooms available in the high school where the agriculture courses can be set up.