From a single classroom and a detached greenhouse to a state-of-the-art facility that supports a comprehensive high school and middle school agriculture education program.
That's the story the agriculture education teachers in the Kiel school district and the FFA Alumni chapter want to share during an open house for the public from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday, April 6.
Thanks to a $6.5 million referendum that district voters approved in 2012, high school agriculture instructor David Friend and middle school agriculture teacher Katrina Pionek and their students now enjoy facilities that accommodate teaching, research, and hands-on learning for animal and veterinarian classes, soil and water projects, horticulture, hydroponics, and aquaponics.
The large animal instruction room in new wing of the high school building that's titled Agriculture Research Center has a stall for the short-term housing of cows and horses. That room also houses a flock of laying chickens whose eggs are used in the home economics class.
Other sections of the facility that's been open for the current school year have cages for rabbits, gerbils, parakeets, and chinchillas along with laboratory type rooms for small group research projects. A planned project is to breed rats and then study the passing of genetics from the parents to the newborn.
Open house visitors will be able to see the early stage growth of annual vegetable and flower plants in the greenhouse that has in-floor heating. In addition to the improvements that have already been made, Friend would like to obtain scales for weighing animals and feed and computers to monitor water usage.
Friend believes that an enrollment increase in the school district this year and the projection for another increase in 2014-15 is at least partially due to the new facilities. Funds approved in the referendum were also used to buy metal fabrication tools being used by students and to add an industrial kitchen for use in consumer and home education department classes.