DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — Stu Ellis finds himself in a lot of barns, but he found some city kinds in a barn Saturday, learning safety, if you can believe it.
Only in Decatur will you find the Andreas Ag Academy, which serves the interests of city kids wanting to learn about agriculture. They are from both of the city’s public high schools, Eisenhower and McArthur — both of which have vo-ag programs and during the summer students tend gardens and learn to care for livestock.
Over seeing the program and the foundation that funds it is Zach Shields.
“We’ve had some individuals in the community who’ve said for years we have all these careers in agriculture that exists and a lot of the students in Decatur public schools aren’t aware of that,” says Shields. “But we’ve got some of the largest agribusinesses in the world here an some of the best soil.
“And these students have no idea you can go out and do something in agriculture that ties to the rest of the global economy but also provide a great living here at home. We branded the program from welding to wall street and everything in between. And we say if you ate today or you’re wearing clothes you are affected by agriculture and that’s really our message to students.”
One of the vo-ag teachers is Kacey Reinholtz, a ‘from girl’, not from here, but from Connecticut.
“I really want my students to have a hands-on experience,” says Reinholtz. “Being hands-on is really important for the kids, that’s how they learn and that’s how I learned. And working on a farm with animals is not necessarily a once-in-a-lifetime experience but they’ll never forget it.”
Check back later for more updates on the Farm Showcase at Andreas Ag Academy.