To the Editor:
Your support is needed to bring agriculture education back to Fairmont Area High School. The school district has been without an ag education program for 25 years.
Several Fairmont area agricultural businesses and producers are part of a movement to re-establish an ag education curriculum/FFA program, beginning with the 2012-2013 school year. Our Fairmont youth need an educational background that gives them higher odds of landing a job that brings them back to our area. An agricultural-based education gives them this opportunity.
Over the past three years, Fairmont Area has reduced its general fund expenditures by $3 million, due to flat state funding and no increase in the local operating levy. Prior to the 2011-2012 school year, 28 high school classes were eliminated. This has resulted in increased class sizes, a decrease in the number of electives offered, and a significant increase in the number of high school students taking a study hall. We would like to change that.
Several area communities (Redwood Falls, Austin, St. Peter) have recently re-established agriculture education/FFA by forming a partnership between the ag community and the school system. In these communities, the agriculture businesses and producers committed funds for three to five years to support the formation of the program until it was large enough to be supported by the school system. We believe this can be accomplished in Fairmont.
The administration at Fairmont Area Schools has expressed a desire to pursue this partnership and has estimated that it will cost $100,000 per year to implement a comprehensive agriculture education/FFA program at Fairmont High School. The basic components will include one FTE agriculture teacher, FFA adviser, curriculum materials and travel expenses for an FFA chapter.
Ultimately, we are looking for sponsors to commit to a three-year donation that will establish an agriculture based curriculum at Fairmont Area School, but any amount of financial help is appreciated. If it works better for you to give a one-time donation, that is certainly appreciated as well.
All of the businesses and individuals we have been in contact with have been very supportive, but in order to get this program going for the 2012-13 school year, we need to meet our $100,000 goal in the next two weeks. This is so the course catalog can be developed for students to enroll in the new classes on March 1, and so the search for an instructor can begin.
Contributions for this partnership will be placed in the Ag Education Partners fund, which is held under Youth First. All funds donated are tax-deductible. Youth First will distribute the funds to the district as needed.
We would like to thank the wonderful businesses and individuals that already have given to this program. We appreciate your support, and we are committed to making this a reality.
If you would like to contribute to this wonderful opportunity for our Martin County youth, please send your donations to:?Youth First, Attn: Ag Education Partners, P.O. Box 826, 323 E. Blue Earth Avenue, Fairmont, MN 56031.
Dr. Brian Roggow, Julie Becker,
Dr. James Dick, Joe Kallemeyn, Bob Wallace and Mike Humpal
Ag Education Partners