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High School Agriculture Program Selected for National Award

NAAE National Award 2021 web

Lampeter-Strasburg High School Teacher Agriculture Program and Agriculture Teachers, Janae McMichael and Holly Oberholtzer, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, are recognized by the NAAE for exemplary performance and dedication to agricultural education.

Lampeter-Strasburg High School Agriculture Program, with its agriculture teachers, Janae McMichael and Holly Oberholtzer, in Lampeter, Pennsylvania, is one of six agricultural education programs nationwide that received the 2021 National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) Outstanding Secondary/Middle School Program award, presented during the 2021 NAAE Convention, November 30 through December 4, in New Orleans.

The NAAE Outstanding Middle/Secondary Program Award is presented in recognition of agricultural education programs that have developed and grown to encompass, at the highest levels, all aspects of the agricultural education model – quality instruction, experiential learning, and student leadership development – into their program.

The Lampeter-Strasburg School District is located in Lancaster County and consists of rural and suburban communities. The school supports 1,006 students in grades 9th-12th. Academically, the school district is ranked 2nd in the county, 86th in the state, and #2,310 in the nation according to the U.S. News: Best High School Rankings. The Agriculture Department’s mission is that all students should be given the opportunity to gain skills that encourage life-long learning and productive citizenship, no matter the future career choice.

The agriculture program’s two teachers work together to develop a curriculum that meets the needs of their individualized students and the agriculture industry in their community. Currently, the program supports two general pathways: Power, Structural & Technical Systems, and Agriscience. In the last 15 years, the agriculture program has evolved to add specialized courses like Veterinary Sciences, Landscape and Plant Design, Agribusiness and Management, Small Gas Engines, and Electricity and Welding. Additionally, students may take an independent study credit which allows them to earn school credit for their Supervised Agricultural
Experience (SAE) project. Through the powerful combination of the three-circle model and enhanced inquiry-based learning, the program helps prepare students for 21st Century jobs by developing such in-demand professional skills such as problem-solving, investigation, and reflection of work.

All Lampeter-Strasburg High School Agriculture students develop their own SAE project within the first week of classes. Students have a desire to gain knowledge of skills for their future career opportunities in their SAE projects. Student’s SAE projects range from developing and presenting animal science lessons in an elementary classroom, shadowing a wide range of professionals, on-farm and off-farm placements, small engine shop placement, horse training placements, managing greenhouses, exploring the field of entomology, and raising and showing livestock.

The Lampeter-Strasburg High School Agriculture Department believes and implements FFA as an intracurricular organization. Within each class taught, there is an element of FFA implemented within the curriculum to meet the goals of the three-circle model of agriculture education and to encourage FFA membership and participation. The Garden Spot FFA Chapter of Lampeter Strasburg High School stays true to the roots of the National FFA Organization by developing students’ potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success by participating in a diverse range of activities and events throughout the year. The
Garden Spot FFA implements a committee structure that allows for members to get involved in program planning, leadership development, and service at the chapter level.

Through strong partnerships with industry specialists, community stakeholders, chapter alumni members, advisory committee members, and community professionals, students are exposed to many different career paths. The Lampeter-Strasburg Agriculture Program is always looking for ways to engage within the community and school. The program’s Local and Occupational Advisory Committee is made up of individuals who are very diverse in their backgrounds and occupations and who want to be utilized by the department. These committee members are utilized on a regular basis for things like mock job interviews to prepare students for future jobs and interviewing FFA members for officer positions. Partnerships like this help to strengthen the
future of the agriculture industry, which reinforces McMichael and the Lampeter-Strasburg High School Agriculture Program as the outstanding recipient of the NAAE Teachers Outstanding Secondary/Middle School Program Award.

NAAE is the professional organization for agricultural educators with over 8,000 members nationwide. It provides members with professional networking and development opportunities, professional liability coverage, and extensive awards and recognition programs. The mission of NAAE is “professionals providing agricultural education for the global community through visionary leadership, advocacy, and service.” The NAAE office is in Lexington, KY.

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