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Agriculture and Columbia Public Schools

Agriculture and Columbia Public Schools

Agriculture student interacting with livestock

Agriculture plays a significant role in Missouri’s economy. Missouri is known for its diverse agricultural production, including crops such as corn, soybeans, wheat, and cotton, as well as livestock such as cattle, hogs, and poultry.

As the fifth largest school district in Missouri, Columbia Public Schools is unique. The district is more than 300 square miles. It’s urban, suburban, and rural. There is no other district in Missouri that has this same unique makeup of every type of school district all in one. It’s also what makes us special. There is something for everyone.

Depending on your view of our community, when you think of Columbia Public Schools your first thought might not be the learning opportunities offered in agriculture for our scholars. Nevertheless, those important connections and opportunities do exist. 

Opportunities to learn about agriculture begin as early as preschool in CPS and continue through high school and workforce development options for our scholars. 

Connections begin with lessons on outdoor gardens, nature, food sources and systems, nutrition, and place-based learning activities. They continue through field trips, experiential learning opportunities, lessons on conservation, and more. For example, this past spring Two Mile Prairie Elementary School hosted Ag Day in partnership with the Missouri Department of Conversation and our Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter. Students were able to learn about fish and wildlife from experts, see farm equipment up close, and learn about farming and animal science directly from our high school scholars studying agriculture, who brought cows, horses, sheep, and goats to the school. 

Additionally, Columbia Public Schools has Partners in Education that bring a wealth of knowledge to our schools, including the Center for Urban Agriculture and the Missouri Agriculture Experiment Stations through the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR). MFA, 4-H, and Sydenstricker also provide important connections for our scholars.

Further, the district has invested in STEM and STEAM-focused programming at Benton Elementary School and Jefferson Middle School. Fairview Elementary School offers place-based learning programming. 

When students reach high school, they have even greater access to courses, clubs, and activities. The district offers courses in both agriculture and natural resources, including agriculture science, animal science, veterinary science, plant science, greenhouse production, agricultural mechanics, horticulture, agricultural business, and natural resources and wildlife conservation among others. 

Our career and technical student organizations are second to none. Just this past school year, the Columbia FFA chapter boasted nine state championship wins at the state FFA competition. And Columbia Public Schools scholar Sam Tummons was elected to be the 2023-2024 Missouri FFA president. 

Through relationships with area organizations and businesses such as MFA, 4-H, Sydenstricker, and more, students can pursue job shadowing and internships. Additionally, scholars can earn dual college credit for much of their coursework in the areas of agriculture and natural resources before they graduate high school.

Our scholars go on to pursue post-secondary learning opportunities and careers in agriculture with a strong basis provided to them through our enrichment opportunities, courses, and programs. 

As the world and community continue to grow and change, agriculture will remain a crucial part of our lives, and Columbia Public Schools is committed to continuing its investment in agriculture education for our scholars. 

Dr. Brian Yearwood

Dr. Brian Yearwood is the Superintendent of Columbia Public Schools

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