Howe Farm: Your Comments

First here are links to three articles I wrote about Howe Farm over past year, from recent to remote.
Dogs Ditch the Leash at Howe Farm
Park Work Has Perks for Humans and Dogs
Commissioners Give Nod to Howe Farm Partnership

Second, in response to comments on the story about Howe Farm and a proposal to allow South Kitsap School District to conduct agriculture classes there, I wanted to added some material that got cut from the story due to space constraints. The copy and the comments address the issue of the relative merit of agriculture education.

Here’s are the comments that raise the question:

Posted by mryan march 8
If there are limited dollars available for vocational educational education, is a program to train people to perform work in a field that has NO agricultural base beyond hobby farms the best use of this money?

Posted by dahl March 8
teaching students a hobby is not my idea of educating students. After all, gardening is a hobby and I certainly doubt whether even one out of the graduating class will go into farming. Even if one did, learning gardening is not going to give him/her the knowledge to farm.

Posted by dahl March 9
What I am opposed to is a school district that complains about unfunded mandates, low graduation rates and failing test scores reaching out for something that won’t do the school district one bit of good in all three categories. How about getting the school district act together instead of spreading out into new areas before getting the current ones to work right?

Here’s what the school district’s director of career and technical education said when I asked him about the relevance of agricultural education.

“(Thomas) Mosby said the hands-on experience students get by studying literally in the field is important in helping them meet state standards on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, regardless of whether they will pursue a career in agriculture, because it demands direct application of knowledge, including math and economics, to real-life situations.
The district’s agriculture and natural resources program includes not only agricultural science, but also natural sciences, environmental science, forestry, landscape design and horticulture.
As to the relevance of the program, Mosby said, the burgeoning green industry has opened up many career paths requiring a background in agriculture and natural science. For example, he said, students who study landscape design and environmental science would have a good start on getting the background necessary to work in environmentally friendly construction such as that promoted by Kitsap Homebuilder’s Association’s Built Green program.
The school district, WSU Kitsap County Cooperative Extension, and Olympic College are working on an arrangement that would allow high school students to receive community college credit for agriculture classes, which in turn could be used toward a four-year degree.

Arno Bergstorm of WSU Extension also weighed in on the relevance of agriculture classes classes. “There is a huge horticulture and green industry here in Kitsap,” he said. “There are jobs out there.”
Bergstrom also noted the relevance of agricultural science, given the increasing cost of fuel to transport food from its source to the consumer. While corporate grocery stores still command 97 percent of the market, the “eat local” movement has at least a toe-hold in Kitsap County, Bergstrom said. Bergstrom teaches a class on making small farming economically viable, and it’s his hope that “eating local” will someday move from the fringes to the mainstream of Kitsap County consumerism.

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