Doland School relaunches shuttered ag program

Farm Forum

Sarah Lambert wants everyone to know how food gets from the pasture to the plate.

She’s doing that through her work as an agriculture teacher at Doland School, where she teaches students about how agriculture affects their lives.

It’s the first time since 2000 that Doland School has had agriculture classes and an FFA program.

After teaching at the Faulkton School for six years, Lambert began working in Doland this year.

“I heard they wanted to start a program and instantly took notice,” she said.

Doland School District Superintendent Jim Hulscher has been with the district for eight years and said he had been looking at different ways to incorporate agricultural education into the school.

It was difficult to persuade students to go to classes at neighboring schools when Doland didn’t have a class, he said. He then discovered that Lambert lived in the district.

“We discussed what was needed to start an ag program, then the board approved the position and we were able to hire her,” Hulscher said.

The program had been discontinued due to a combination of factors, including budget concerns, waning student interest and the availability of faculty.

“It’s a big deal at a school this size to have a program,” Lambert said. “Programs like it can be put on the chopping block.”

There are about 150 students at Doland School. About 30 students are now in the class and signed up for FFA.

It helps that the program is familiar to the community.

“Kids know what it is, but not the things that go into it yet,” said Lambert, who also visits elementary classrooms to introduce them to agriculture.

The high school ag classes spent the beginning of the year getting the shop area organized before tackling the construction of ice fishing shacks, which was the first project.

“Getting equipment is the hardest part, but the school is very supportive,” Lambert said.

New equipment had to be purchased to meet safety requirements for student use. Hulscher said some applications for grants have been sent in and community donations have helped.

Karrie Stickler, a senior, said she was excited to have FFA return to the school. Her father was involved with the organization during high school, she said.

“It’s been fun, and it’s a class I really look forward to coming to,” said Stickler, explaining she’s not sure what she wants to do after graduation, but figured it couldn’t hurt to get some ag experience.

“Even if they don’t go into an ag career, they’ll be an ag consumer,” Lambert said.

Senior David Dunlavy wants to work with farm equipment in the future. He’s leaning toward becoming a diesel engine technology engineer.

“I like working with tools and building things,” he said.

Lambert said she’s been enjoying the challenge of starting another agriculture education program. It made sense to reignite the program in Doland, she said.

“Doland is an ag community, and a majority of students will go into an ag-related career,” she said.

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