Agriculture is an integral part of Western Placer Unified School District (WPUSD) and last year, launched one of the biggest Career and College Education initiatives our county has yet seen in their Career Technical Education (CTE) program. The agricultural department at Lincoln High School, set out to do the unthinkable and wrote a grant to receive a 4.3 million dollar initiative to fund the future of students in WPUSD.
Western Placer Unified School District, and the Lincoln High School Farm Foundation leveraged the potential of a joint-written grant between WPUSD and key industry players such as schools, corporate partners, and colleges to bolster a visionary program into a model program for other districts all over the state and nation. WPUSD and the agriculture department at LHS won the grant, based on the vision the foundation laid years prior to the state’s investment CTE pathway programs.
CTE or as LHS has rebranded it, College and Career Education is a program that allows students to begin discovering their career path in life. Whereas many students begin to think about their career futures in college and change majors an average of two to three times, LHS has worked hard to develop seven pathways, similar to majors in college, where students can discover what they love and what makes the most sense to them prior to enrolling in a technical school or college. These seven pathways include Wood Technology/Construction, Media Arts, BioMed, Computer Science, Engineering, and three Agricultural Pathways; Agriscience, Welding and Diesel Mechanics. Each pathway is expanding and pathways are growing each year with LHS to include new courses and programs of study. Additionally, the district has initiated an internship program designed to give students the opportunity to hone their skills in the real world.
The agriculture department used funds to develop the agriculture pathway at the middle school level, for students beginning the pathway, with the potential of continuing the program throughout their high school and post-secondary experience. In addition to Agriscience and Agricultural Mechanics, the department offers many other elective agricultural classes. “Many of these classes and pathways articulate to the college level,” explains Barret Hess, instructor and grant author, “College level unit credits will be available this year, and articulated courses mean students do not have to take additional entry level classes that they completed in high school, and can jump right into the more advanced classes. This allows them to graduate sooner.” Hess explains that they are in the process of working with American River College and Yuba Community College to create concurrent enrollment classes that not only articulate, but also allow for credits at a high school and college level.
Currently upon completion of the Agricultural Mechanics Pathway, which includes classes such as Agricultural Welding, Alternative Fuel Technologies, and Diesel Equipment Mechanics, students can become certificated in welding. Since the pathway is partnered with the Welding Union and American River College (ARC), students can choose to extend their welding education with a secure spot at ARC or move forward with job placement the help of the Plumbers and Pipefitter’s Union.
In October of last year, WPUSD set about to make all these dreams a reality by breaking ground on the redesigned District Farm. Owned by the district, the 500 acres of land they use to teach agricultural classes offer districtwide elementary school field trips, and community events. Each year sixth grade students from both Glen Edwards Middle School and Twelve Bridges Middle School spend two days at the District Farm while learning about science, forestry, vernal pool studies, soils, waterfowl, pond ecology and raptors. The second day is then spent at the Outdoor Learning Environment (OLE) located out by Twelve Bridges.
The District Farm is redesigned to handle a total of 240 high school students daily in 4 total classrooms with a brand new quad and state of the art welding facility. Open house and ribbon cutting on the new facility is set for April 19th at 5pm and is open to the public.
A goal for all pathways is giving students a clear path to their future and preparing them to be both college and career ready when they graduate. “Now is the time for discovery and we have made sure all the pathways classes are also A-G certified for college entrance and also high school graduation requirements,” states Kerry Callahan, Assistant Superintendent of WPUSD.
“WPUSD is about discovering what our students and community needs, and then making that a reality. We pride ourselves on remaining progressive and leading the way in education and real-life training for our students,” explains Scott Leaman, Superintendent at WPUSD.
Currently the Agricultural Department is looking to expand their internships with companies in the community for LHS students. If you are a company that would like to help train and work with the College and Career Program in the Agricultural Sector, please contact Barret Hess at email@example.com or go online to the Agricultural Department website at www.WPUSDagriculture.com for more information.