SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)– Students in South Dakota’s largest city are now able to take courses about the state’s largest industry.
Agricultural education is being offered for the first time this year in the Sioux Falls School District.
Class is in session at the CTE academy, and today’s lesson: small animal science.
“Kind of like the structure of animals and kind of like how they developed and they were brought into like domestication and how like dogs and cats are kind of the way they are now today where they were like wild before,” said Alexis Shea, senior.
Ag teacher Andrew Jensen used to teach at a more rural location and says that teaching agriculture in the city is definitely a different experience.
“Just the base line knowledge of our students. A lot of our students here in Sioux Falls, especially in our small animal science class, they have different agricultural products, so they were talking about snakes and cats and dogs the other day while previously would have been more large animal science, hogs and cows and things of that nature so,” said Jensen. “Seeing what segment of the ag industry they participate in, with maybe not even knowing that they are really part of the ag industry.”
Class in the program will include natural resources, small and large animal science, horticulture, ag-bio technology, and next year they will be adding ag leadership.
“We are taking industry tours, we are bringing in guest speakers, we are giving these students the bigger picture of what it might be to be a veterinarian or to work on a farm,” said Jensen.
Whether they are learning about small animals like goldfish, dogs or cats or learning about the large animal livestock industry, this class will help prepare students in Sioux Falls for their future careers.
“I want to be a veterinarian when I’m older and I just feel like it would be a great experience to like start taking more like animal-based classes rather than like trying to get as close to an animal class as possible back at school,” said Shea.
“What I am finding out is that so many of our students here would like to become either a vet tech or a veterinarian and so giving them at least the baseline of what it’s like to maybe talk to a vet or get to know vet terms or things like that so super important for them to see that you don’t have to live on a farm to work in agriculture,” said Jensen.
For some students, it’s just giving them the opportunity to learn more about where their food comes from.
“Just so you have more respect for the farmers and how hard it actually is to farm all the food,” said Shelby Liesner-Ferthe, junior.
It’s a subject Jensen and his students believe should have been taught in Sioux Falls schools sooner.
“Every time someone finds out Sioux Falls is starting an ag program they say ‘Sioux Falls didn’t have one?’ so it definitely is one needed I mean just to tie in you know Sioux Falls is such a great ag history and finally going to start bridging the gap between industry and the city of Sioux Falls and the Sioux Falls School District,” said Jensen.
“I definitely would say I wish it was here sooner rather than later. It’s kind of a bummer that it came just my senior year. But I’m glad that it came my senior year so I at least get to experience it,” said Shea.
Later in the year, the group will also get to participate in large ag projects, such as sheering sheep, taking care of classroom chickens, possibly a pig farrowing project and they hope to get an animal lab built on the CTE campus. The group will also be participating in FFA this year.