Extension shares Ag knowledge with Ft White High School Students
By Jennifer Chasteen/Special to the Reporter
As Published in Lake City Reporter, June 4, 2013
UF/IFAS Columbia County Extension Agronomist Mace Bauer knows that raising crops in Florida has its unique challenges and ensuring that local youth have an opportunity to meet that challenge is a priority.
“Agriculture textbooks have a strong Midwestern U.S. bias,” says Bauer. “While these concepts are fundamental, I have shared information about soils, cropping systems, and management specifically for local conditions. I hope that the information I share with them will help them make objective decisions in the future.”
Ft White High School student Noah Meyers (left) and Christopher Glenn (right) take instruction from Extension Agent Mace Bauer. Career opportunities in agriculture exist in many specializations including marketing, biology, chemistry and computer systems. Credit: Jen Chasteen.
Ft. White Agri-Science & Energy Teacher Wayne Oelfke involves his students in the Nutrients for Life Program, a program that offers hands-on activities for students to learn about crop and nutrient management. Bauer, along with the Extension Service Outreach Education Team, have brought research based information and guidance to the project in a cooperative effort with Oelfke.
“These children will be our future leaders and decision makers in Columbia County and Fort White,” explains Bauer. “Agriculture and the environment are key economic drivers in the local economy. It is important both coexist sustainably in Columbia County.”
Ft White Freshman Eric Peace took Oelfke’s class this year because he wanted to help his parents with their home garden but thinks that it could possibly effect his career choice. “I think that this will help me raise my own garden and that I could help my neighbors,” says Peace. “I could go into multiple things (careers) with the knowledge that I gain in this project.”
Bauer maintains that most of the students don’t have any interest in a career in agriculture but he tries to instill in them that a career in agriculture could be in marketing, biology, chemistry, journalism, computer systems, or other specialization. Florida agriculture is a $100B industry with 500,000 jobs. Whatever their true interest, they may find a niche in agriculture, or choose to take their knowledge and become beginning farmers right here in Fort White.