• 68°

A Day on the Farm: Elementary students visit Drop Farm to learn about agriculture

Some local elementary school students spent a day gettin’ down on the farm while learning about plants and animals.

The Drop Farm is a Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE) for the agriculture programs in the Carter County School System. The project was created by a partnership between the school system and Pattie Meyer, who inherited the farm from her uncle and aunt — John and Patti Drop. The Drop family wanted their farm to serve as a way to help educate future generations about farming and agriculture.

Meyer formed the Drop Collaborative and partnered with the Carter County School System to help bring her family’s dream to life.

The farm not only serves as a working farm but as an education experience.

The Drop Collaborative project through the Career Technical Educational (CTE) 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. The produce and beef coming from the farm are distributed in the community through local food banks.

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 help them learn about life on a farm.

On Wednesday, 1st graders from Unaka Elementary and 3rd graders from Hunter Elementary visited the Drop Farm for a day of fun-filled education. The students helped plant vegetables in the raised garden beds, went on a nature hike around the farm, visited with the farm’s animals, learned about a variety of different plants, and also enjoyed coloring and games.

Students from Unaka High were on hand to help lead the students on their adventures as were UHS agriculture teacher Josh Armentrout and UHS CTE principal Dr. Melissa Loveless.

Also helping the students on Wednesday were volunteers from the local Lowe’s Home Improvements. The store has been a big supporter of the Drop Farm project, according to Armentrout, providing not only donated materials but volunteers to help assist with special projects.

The Drop Collaborative was selected by the Tennessee Department of Education as one of the Top 5 CTE (Career and Technical Education) Models in the state.

The program also won the 2017 award for “Conservation Promotion” from the Tennessee Association of Conservation Districts.

Through its mission of education, mentoring younger students and giving back to the community, the Drop Collaborative also garnered a Perkins Grant to help support the program, which will celebrate its second anniversary next month.