Down on the Farm: State education official, students visit Drop Collaborative
This Fall, students in the Headstart and Pre-K programs in the Carter County School System will be getting the chance to spend a day on the farm while learning about foods, animals and how a farm operates.
The Drop Collaborative project through the Career Technical Educational program at Unaka High School allows students in the agriculture class to expand their education by helping to run a working farm. The UHS students care for the animals, raise vegetables and keep the farm going.
Part of the Drop Collaborative also serves as a way to educate younger students about how a farm works. Students in the UHS agriculture program along with students in other CTE disciplines provide mentorship to the younger students and educate them about the farm.
On Thursday a group of Headstart and Pre-K students visited the farm. In addition to learning about the farm, the students got to have fun with crafts and games and also got a chance to visit with the farm’s animals. The Drop Farm will host another group of Headstart and Pre-K students today and more students on Monday and Tuesday of next week. Once the Drop Farm Days have finished, all of the Headstart and Pre-K students in the county will have had to the opportunity to visit the farm.
The farm had another special guest on Thursday. Chelsea Parker, the Executive Director of Work-Based Learning with the Tennessee Department of Education, stopped to visit the farm. Parker is in town for a special meeting of the Tennessee Council of Career Technical Education which is being held today at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Elizabethton.
Thursday marked Parker’s first chance to visit the Drop Collaborative farm and see first hand the hard work put in by students in the program.
“I have been really impressed with how intentional they have been matching the older students with the younger children and building that mentoring relationship,” Parker said. “The more you get that kind of mentoring relationship the more everybody learns.
“It makes CTE come to life, really it makes education come to life when everyone can get hands on,” she added.
While the older students are focusing on teaching the younger students, they themselves are also learning important skills, Parker said, adding praise for the work by the high school students.
“They are really professional and they are modelling that behavior for the younger students,” she said. “All of these students are learning work ethic, they are learning collaboration and they are learning communication. Whatever they go on to do in their careers those skills will benefit them.”
In addition to visiting to see the program for herself, Parker said she and others with the state are interested in studying the program to see how it works.
“We are hoping we can help other districts replicate the success we are seeing here,” she said.
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