New course teaches importance of agriculture as career

Following the construction of the SAHS greenhouse, an agricultural and plant science course was introduced this year. The course aims to teach the importance plants play in society and help students pursue careers in the field.

As a result of the greenhouse built in 2019, Souderton Area High School has added a new science course called Agricultural Science (Ag Sci).
Though this course is just now being taught for the first time, it’s been in the works for a few years now, according to science teacher Kim Wilson.
“Going back between six to eight years, we started wanting a greenhouse with a matching curriculum at the high school, and this is the first year we’ve actually gotten to do that,” Wilson said.
Despite being in its earliest stages as a course, senior Sierra Sullivan believes the course is extremely in depth and well thought out.
“I think that the class seems well prepared for a brand new curriculum, and it runs very smoothly,” Sullivan said.
Agreeing with Sullivan, senior Isabelle Feliciani believes that the class is well thought out.
“I like the way it’s been going, and it’s got a steady pace to it. I feel like I’m really getting a deeper understanding,” Feliciani said.
There was quite a bit of preparation for getting this course integrated into the science department.
“[Science teacher Ian] Burley and I took the course ourselves over a two week period a few years ago through a program called CASE, Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education,” Wilson said.
Though being certified as soon as the course was over, Wilson and Burley were thrown off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The class focuses on the anatomy and processes different plants undergo throughout their whole lives and their importance.
“The purpose of the class is mainly to learn about how they work and survive, but we also talk about how plants are crucial to our everyday lives,” Sullivan said.
An added learning component to the course is the use of the greenhouse.
The SAHS greenhouse is being used to grow plants for both cafeteria food use and plant sales.
It plays a major role in the Ag Sci curriculum.
“We’ve done a lot in the greenhouse this year, like planting flowers and creating our own hydroponic systems,” Sullivan said.
Working alongside clubs like the Greenhouse Growers and SAVE, Ag Sci students are also given the opportunity to work and aid with different projects
“I thought it was nice that we got to help with plant sales. It makes it different than most classes,” Sullivan said.
The main push for this course came from Wilson and Burley.
“I heard all about it from Mr. Burley, and I figured I’d put it into my schedule,” Sullivan said.
While some take the course just for fun, other students enroll because they hope to find a career in the field of agricultural and environmental science.
“The course is really interesting, and we always start out by focusing on the industry. We talk about all the different supporting careers in agricultural science and business, which can be really helpful,” Wilson said. “I think it’s a great facet to add to our school, and it goes along well with the Pathways program.”