Lima Senior High School recently unveiled its new Agricultural Education Program and Spartan Farm.
Supporters, school officials and FFA students attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the farm, located off of East Chapman Road.
The farm is on 30 acres of land received from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. Students currently spend three days a week on the farm. Already they have planted apple trees and cover crops and learned tractor, skid loader and other skills.
“The Spartan Farm Agronomy Lab will be for students to learn about operational grain production and management of land and natural resources,’ said Instructor Danial Maltsbarger. “Opportunities to learn about and drive agricultural equipment as well as modern Ag technology will help shape and develop our students for success in the local agricultural industry.”
The program is also utilizing classrooms at Lima Senior and garden space being developed at the former Emerson School site. The two-year program will cover agriculture food and natural resources, soil, crops, animal systems, animal and plant sciences, animal nutrition and genetics and much more.
A FFA (Future Farmers of America) chapter has already started at the school. The group will be involved in the community and compete through the national organization. The chapter’s Fruit Sale — a FFA tradition — is happening now.
The Ag program is part of Lima Senior’s growing career tech offerings. It is available for juniors and seniors. It fits well into existing career tech programs like auto tech, welding and culinary.
“We had a lot of interest right away in the program from students already involved with 4-H and things like that,’ Superintendent Jill Ackerman said. “And now that we are up and running, we expect that interest to grow, including among students who may not have any farm experience. We are excited to introduce agriculture and all the opportunities it holds to all our students.”
The district already does a Farm Day event each spring to give elementary students the opportunity to experience life on a farm. It is currently held at one of the schools, but the farm will likely allow the district to expand the event.
Maltsbarger is a 2014 Upper Sandusky graduate who grew up on a farm and has experience with FFA and working with local farmers. He graduated with bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration and Agricultural Business from the University of Northwestern Ohio.