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Elementary students dig deep into agri-business

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FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — It’s been a long time since a classroom has been filled to the brim.

But close to three dozen visitors, students, teachers and staff assembled at Cogburn Woods Elementary School’s Agriculture Education classroom May 18 for a lecture and tour of the program.

Instructor Matt Brown, who operates a small farm at his home in Cherokee County, has led the program and has taken students through the various elements of agri-business.

It’s more than getting your hands dirty.

The pilot program, one of 24 approved in the state, sets a specific curriculum that teaches more than growing and harvesting.

Students at Cogburn Woods presented brief reports about the farm they learned to create, how it was built, how it is managed and how it turns a profit.

The list of guests included Fulton County Schools Superintendent Mike Looney.

The reports included details about the price they paid per acre, the number and type of livestock and how much income the farm brings in. Students highlighted examples of how they rotate crops and grazing areas to ensure high yields.

Now in its second year at Cogburn Woods, the AG Ed classes teach concepts and theories relating to a broad spectrum of agricultural and agri-business topics. Students also participate in laboratory work where they receive hands-on skills.

Brown said he recalled a time asking someone for a pair of pliers, and the person had no notion what he was talking about. He said he teaches all students about tools and includes an overview of some machinery, like tillers.

The outdoor classroom area has raised beds for gardening, a full-size chicken coop with about a dozen chickens producing eggs, fruit trees and the beginnings of a greenhouse.

The course curriculum was created through legislation created three years ago.

State Sen. John Wilkinson, a former FFA program manager and agricultural education teacher who now serves as chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs committee, sponsored the legislation.

Cogburn Woods Elementary Principal Lisa Garosi said she jumped at the chance to join the pilot program.

“I raised my hand and said I wanted to be a part of it,” she said.

The program is open to students in 2nd through 5th grades, about 800 students, Garosi said. The school’s kindergarten and 1st grades classes have the opportunity to visit the classroom as well.

Garosi said she’s proud to have landed a program that teaches children about farming.

“This is essentially what Milton was years ago,” she said.

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