MCCORMICK, S.C. (AP) — With 25,000 farms in South Carolina, agriculture reigns over industry in the state, and this week a handful of eighth- and ninth-graders are getting an inside look.
The South Carolina Governor’s School for Agriculture at John de la Howe hosted the Aggie Adventure camp this week, giving 10 prospective students an inside look at the school and the industry.
The students spent four days and three nights at the school being immersed in many aspects of agriculture: equine, animal science, forestry, shooting sports, welding, tractors and equipment, and more.
Students spent Monday afternoon on animal science with teacher Libby Templeton, learning about cuts of livestock, how animals are raised, and the meat and dairy industries.
“Our students are going to be agriculture advocates for the future, and I think it’s very important for my students to go out to the public and inform the public of what’s going on around their surroundings, around their area to the future generations out here,” Templeton said.
“I want them to understand what’s going on. Besides in the classroom, I want to give them real-world applications, hands-on experiences. I want them to understand and apply their knowledge and skills.”
The students got hands-on experiences throughout the camp. In the meat and dairy lab, for example, they used rotisserie chicken to identify specific cuts and parts and tasted some of the cheese they learned about.
The overnight camp provided an immersive experience for students but wasn’t the only summertime offering at the school.
In June, the school had six day camps for kids of different ages. Throughout the year, the school’s Education Center hosts field trips and continuing education opportunities for adults.
“This camp, we really wanted to focus on those rising eighth- and ninth-graders because those are the students, of course, that in a couple of years we hope are going to be applying to the school,” said Kinsley Miller, director of the Education Center.
She said they wanted to give students a glimpse at a residential school, which could be a big leap for students that age, to see if it would be a good fit for them.
Tim Keown, president of the school, said the students at the camp are potential John de la Howe students, so the camp is able to teach students about agriculture while also working as outreach and recruitment to what he considers the most important industry in the state.
“We would like to touch all 46 counties with our mission, with our vision, so this is just one of the ways we do that,” Keown said.
Rising senior Anna Grace Cross is a John de la Howe student and returned to help out at the camp. Cross said the school is “an awesome opportunity if you want to be in agriculture.”
She plans to enter the agriculture business, with an eye on animal science, and agriculture education as a backup.
It’s important for students to know the basics of farming and where food comes from, Cross said, noting she’s learned everything from forestry and wildlife, to animal science, to welding and operating equipment.