RUTHVEN The Ruthven-Ayrshire Board of Education examined a pair of offers to share vocational agriculture and FFA programs for its students and arrived at a decision during a meeting Monday night in Ruthven. After requests from parents and students to add a vocational agriculture opportunity to the curriculum, contacts were made with Emmetsburg and Graettinger-Terril High Schools about the possibility of sharing their programs with students at RA.
According to RA Principal Jon Josephson, a letter sent to parents of students in grades 9-12 indicated that 14 students, 10 boys and four girls, were interested in vocational agriculture and FFA opportunities if they would be available to RA students.
"We were really pleased with the response to the letter," noted Dr. Noreen Bunt, Ruthven-Ayrshire Superintendent of Schools said. "I had thought there would be maybe 10 students, but most of the parents were also very positive about the idea."
In Monday's board meeting, RA board members were briefed on the two schools' programs and what types of arrangements in terms of sharing could be worked out between the districts to allow for the sharing. Graettinger-Terril had proposed sending their instructor to Ruthven for at least one hour daily, while the Emmetsburg proposal called for RA students traveling to Emmetsburg for classes.
Emmetsburg High School Principal Jay Jurrens, along with Vocational Agriculture instructor Randy Nosbisch, and Superintendent John Joynt, were on hand along with Graettinger-Terril Principal Jesse Ulrich to answer questions and explain their respective programs.
Nosbisch, who is in his first year at Emmetsburg, explained his curriculum. The first year, or Ag I, is based on an introduction to FFA and Animal Science. In the second year, Ag II studies Plant Science and Agronomy. In the third year, Ag III studies Ag Mechanics and Advanced Agronomy practices, while the final year, Ag IV, revolves around Ag Business and entrepreneurship in agriculture.
"I would be very interested in acquiring more students who want to be passionate about agriculture," Nosbisch said. "Agriculture is a very dynamic field right now. Too many people can't see past the cows, plows and sows. It's a very dynamic time in agriculture."
When asked about numbers, Nosbisch answered there are 43 students in FFA, with around 50 in the actual Vocational Agriculture program.
Speaking on behalf of Graettinger-Terril, Jesse Ulrich noted that Vo-Ag Instructor Tiffany Johnston's program was quite similar to what was offered in Emmetsburg. "Our FFA youth are very involved in community service opportunities, such as the Labor Day celebration," Ulrich noted. "They also participate in career development opportunities, judging contests such as livestock, meats and soil judging."
At G-T, first year Vo-Ag students study Leadership, and in the second year, soils. The third year focuses on Animal Science and the final year on Ag Business. At Graettinger-Terril, there are 20 students participating in FFA and Vocational Agriculture.
Dr. Bunt pointed out that the greatest amount of interest from RA students came from the ninth graders, with a mixture of sophomores, juniors and seniors.
"This would be a choice for our students," Josephson said. "Vocational Agriculture would be a for-credit course, but FFA would be an activity, like band or choir."
As the discussion continued, Dr. Bunt noted that she had done some projections that the cost of mileage for the instructor to travel between Graettinger and Terril would run about $1,900 per year, while the cost of sending a bus with students to Emmetsburg would entail costs of roughly $2.38 per mile, including the cost of a driver. "Graettinger-Terril covers the cost of the instructor," Dr. Bunt noted.
"I'd really like to open the door with Emmetsburg for some sharing," Board member Larry Conlon said. "But, I also like the idea of having the teacher in our building, too."
"Travel time is not productive time," agreed Board member Barry Fischer.
After a few moments, Conlon moved to share Vocational Agriculture with Graettinger-Terril as a class offering. "I prefer having the teacher do the driving," he commented, as Fischer offered a second. The motion was approved on a unanimous vote of the board.