Senate bill to create Arkansas agriculture schools

Senate bill to create Arkansas agriculture schools

WEINER, AR (KAIT) - A bill sits on the Governor's desk that will create a pilot program for agriculture schools.

Senate Bill 1037 would build partnerships between schools and the agri community. Friends of Weiner, which lost their school in 2010, have fought for this type of bill more than 3 years.

The bill states 27 out of 100 jobs in Arkansas are agriculture related, and that is just one of the reasons lawmakers fought for this bill.

Michelle Cadle, of Weiner, helped write and present SB1037.

"This will put agriculture education on the forefront for Arkansas," Cadle said.

Miles of farmland and agricultural businesses line the roads of Arkansas, and Cadle said she has spoken with many business leaders giving insight to the struggle the industry faces to find good help.

"Having to locate employees that are qualified outside of our state because even though our students are going on to college, they are still not career ready," Cadle said.

She said agriculture schools will change that. \

"It has the same core curriculum, but it would also have a heavy focus in STEM as well as agriculture," Cadle said.

Greta Greeno worked with Cadle to push this bill through the legislature.

She said agri schools are needed because the industry goes beyond just farmers.

"Engineers, there are fields in robotics, new fields with drones," Greeno said.

Greeno and Cadle agree that a prime spot for these schools are rural communities because local agricultural businesses are ready to form partnerships.

"They are so ready to help and get on board with this because they see how it is going to help them," Greeno said.

The partnerships would allow for students to learn directly from industry officials and be ready for work out of high school.

With ag schools, supporters of the bill believe small communities can be revitalized.

"This will definitely be a boost for not only the local industry but for the local economy," Cadle said.

Bill Reed, VP of Riceland, said he sees great potential in this bill to help grow agriculture in rural communities. 

The Department of Career Education and Department of Education will develop and administer the K-12th grade pilot program.

Public schools in Arkansas can apply to be a part of the pilot program.

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