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Keokuk High School adding ag classes, FFA chapter

Will Buss

Keokuk High School will add agriculture classes and start a chapter of the Future Farmers of America beginning next school year.

The school board approved the move during its meeting on Feb. 5. Board president Clint Wray said many students are looking for new educational programs and organizations to join.

“Some kids that are interested in FFA are not just interested in agriculture, they just want to belong to something,” Wray said. “It is a great opportunity.”

Keokuk High School Principal Nathan Harrison said this expansion in the school’s curriculum is the result of a recent survey of the school’s students who expressed an interest in agriculture.

“The student interest levels basically drove that decision,” Harrison said.

"One of the things that we found is we're really the only school in the region that didn't have an agriculture or FFA program. So, we also wanted to stay competitive and make sure that students in the boundaries of Keokuk schools have the same opportunities that students in the surrounding schools had."

Harrison said the expanded curriculum will provide access to classes in plant science, animal science and agri-business. He said these classes will offer a pathway for students who participate in Career and Technical Education, which provides instruction for careers in high-wage, high-skill and in-demand occupations across Illinois. (Should this be Iowa?)

“Right now, students take business, finance, marketing, management, we have health sciences, welding, building trades, automotives and family consumer sciences,” he said. “So, adding agriculture is going to be great because it's going to just kind of open up a whole new window of opportunity for a lot of our kids.”

He also said Lee County has many ag-based businesses with job opportunities that do not necessarily require applicants to have a background in farming.

“This is going to be outstanding,” he said. “It's a new way for us to engage with the community. With so many ag-based businesses in the county alone, let alone in the region, that we just are giving our kids whole new set of pathways to success. And that's really what we want to do, provide them with some opportunity for some hands-on activities and animal care, crop cultivation and things like that

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