The Agriculture Education program is taught to all CRCS students. In addition, we have an Agricultural Education Integrationist who works with teachers on bringing agricultural education experiences into the curriculum when appropriate. We strive to provide students with a solid understanding of the many branches of agriculture as well as a sense of their agriculture community. The program is taught through units; each varying in length. All classes are taught the same unit at the same time but each class learns about different topics under that unit. For example, all students may be learning about dairy but one class may focus on the lifecycle of a dairy cow and her anatomy, while another class would be learning about the economics and history of dairy farming in Maine.
As with our entire curriculum, we want students to not only hear, read, and write about agriculture but to taste, touch, smell, see, and experience agriculture. We have begun to create an on-site outdoor classroom which so far includes a compost bin and a school wide composting program, laying hens and a mobile chicken coop, a garden, 8 raised beds, and an orchard. The older students typically participate in weekly chores where they are responsible for caring for the chickens and managing the compost. In class, students are taken outside to garden, plant trees, turn the compost, clean the chicken coop, study weeds, and so much more. In addition, students travel to neighboring farms at the culmination of some units to see a living example of what they have been learning about and to be able to talk and ask questions of a local farmer. So far we have visited Backyard Farms in Madison, Flood Bros. Farm in Clinton, Cayford Orchards in Skowhegan, One Drop Farm in Cornville, Grassland Farm in Skowhegan, the Grist Mill in Skowhegan, Tessier’s Farm in Skowhegan, and Moodytown Gardens in Palmyra.
CRCS believes that Agriculture Education is an integral part of the curriculum and treats it that way. Our goal with this program is not to create 144 future farmers each year but to instill in our students a reverence for hard work, an understanding of where food comes from, and to give students an opportunity to apply knowledge gained in all study areas in a hands-on, applicable way.
“To plant a garden is to believe in the future” – Audrey Hepburn