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Friday, August 12, 2011

Locust Trace AgriScience Farm to ‘grow’ students with agriculture interests

At Locust Trace AgriScience Farm, everyone feels like a kid in a candy store.

 

The 82-acre farm, which opened Thursday to Eastside Technical Center students, boasts top-notch facilities and resources for those who thrive on plants, animals and the countryside.

 

“I started out with my dream job,” said Rebecca Russell, a first-year teacher in the plant and land science program. “It’s hard to pick one word to sum up how great this place is – maybe ‘extraordinary’?’’

 

A tour of Fayette County Public Schools’ newest construction illustrates what she means: spacious classrooms with adjoining labs; wide-open fields for gardening; a huge greenhouse, with an aquaculture area for raising native fish; a soaring auditorium with a gate for bringing in livestock; an expansive barn and arena; and a veterinary clinic.

 

It’s all part of the district’s burgeoning horticulture and agriculture programs, which had been housed across town at Eastside Tech.

 

Camila Modica, a senior at Lafayette High School, is starting her third year. In fact, she’s an all-day student at Locust Trace, which offers morning and afternoon sessions. She readily vouched for the total experience, including the FFA chapter – all of which has bolstered her grades, her self-confidence and her appreciation of school.

 

“If you love it so much, it comes naturally,” she said of her studies in the equine and small animal and livestock science programs.

 

Camila, who wants to be a vet, also spoke highly of the bonds fostered among students and staff. Smaller classes mean more individual attention, as does a limited student population – Locust Trace has about 250 this fall, and the eventual capacity is 400.

 

Camila has already made a new friend in Jesse Mitchell, a junior at Tates Creek High in his first tech-school venture. They soon realized they have a lot in common. For one thing, both teens were born abroad – Camila in Argentina and Jesse in Ireland. And it was a love of horses that brought their families to Kentucky and both students to Locust Trace.

 

The equine and vet science program was so popular that Jesse didn’t squeeze in this fall. He then opted for an elective in the biotechnology and environmental science area, where he’ll learn about forestry, wildlife and such.

 

“My whole life I’ve been moving around and active outside,” said Jesse, who prefers hands-on lessons to classroom lectures. “I expect it to be extremely exciting.”

 

Russell plans to do her part to make learning fun and challenging for everyone at Locust Trace.

 

“If I want to have connections with my students, we’re going to grow together,” she said.

 

From FCPS

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