LEAD 33 Develops Partnership with Chicago High School for Ag Sciences

May 1, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. — It began during the Nebraska LEAD Program's visit to the Chicago High School of Agricultural Sciences in February.

In casual conversations, LEAD 33 Fellows found out the high school wanted to ramp up its animal science program and were looking at securing some beef cattle.

It didn't take long for members of the 33rd LEAD class to work on a plan to help out.

Nebraska LEAD visits the high school each year on its national study/travel seminar. Nebraska LEAD Program Director Terry Hejny added the high school to the national study seminars in 2009. He was familiar with the high school from his days of teaching agricultural education and being an FFA adviser.

"We are always evolving the program, and as part of the national study/travel seminar I thought visiting this agricultural high school in a metro area would be interesting and beneficial," Hejny said.

The Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences (http://www.chicagoagr.org/) is a public school that opened its doors in 1985.

It has a 90 percent graduation rate, and many of its students go on to higher education, Hejny said. The school also has the fifth largest FFA Chapter in the nation. Many Nebraska LEAD fellows have FFA backgrounds, so visiting the school was a logical choice.

Typically the LEAD groups visit Chicago and make stops at the Chicago Board of Trade and EPA Region 5.

Since the February stop, LEAD 33 is now at work developing an agricultural mentorship between itself and the school.

To start with, LEAD 33 Fellows pooled their resources to purchase four feeder calves to send to the high school.

The two steers and two heifers, which are different breeds and weights ranging from 700 to 900 pounds, will provide educational diversity for the students.

LEAD Fellow Jason Arp of Arp Cattle/Knee Deep LLC. near Kennard said when the group was there in February, they saw the high school had a few sows, a few litters of pigs, a couple of horses, chickens, eggs and vegetables.

"They were short on the cattle side," Arp said.

So LEAD Fellow Calvin Wineland of American Butchers LLC. near Cambridge, said, "if you ever want cattle, give us a call." And that is just what the school did.

Arp said this will highlight Nebraska beef and allow the students to learn more about animal science.

"It was pretty neat," Arp said. "The students really appreciated it, and I am glad this LEAD class was so thoughtful and giving to make something like this happen."

CHSAS Farm Superintendent Bill Hook and CHSAS Farm Manager Scott Nelson picked up the calves April 15 at the Arp farm.

In addition, a study tour is planned for late-summer/early-fall where students from CHSAS will tour Nebraska agricultural production, hosted by Nebraska LEAD 33 Fellows.

This mentor program will promote agricultural advocacy by educating students about Nebraska beef production, develop young leaders and bring Nebraska farm-gate agriculture to the Chicago dinner table, said LEAD Fellow Matt Dolch of Lincoln.

Dolch said he hopes it will be able to provide a long-term partnership to showcase production agriculture and develop a relationship between agriculture and what is going on in urban settings today.

"We hope this shows the students what careers agriculture can provide, and that it is a desirable field in the future," Dolch said.

"This really takes the Nebraska LEAD Program to the next level," Dolch said. "From what we've learned in our seminars and bringing it to the younger students – this is us leading and teaching them to lead. We hope in the long-term additional LEAD classes will take the bull by horns and do a project similar to this."

Nebraska LEAD Program offices are in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

For more information, visit http://lead.unl.edu/.

Terry Hejny, Ph.D.
Nebraska LEAD Program
402-472- 6810

Sandi Alswager Karstens
IANR News Service

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