Ag program could expand across county

Published 10:12 am Friday, May 12, 2017

Members of the Lincoln County School Board may consider expanding one school’s successful agriculture program district wide.

Career Technical Education Director Stacy Adcock, who is also the transportation director for the district, said the Agricultural Academy started by Billy Sumrall four years ago at Loyd Star Attendance Center has become a model for schools across the state as well as the region.

“People don’t understand how big agriculture is, whether it’s in economics, writing, photography, welding, fabrication, veterinarian technology, we cover a whole range of things,” Sumrall told The Daily Leader earlier this month.

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In the Loyd Star program, students apply the basics like math, science and English to agricultural projects.

Thirteen of the program’s graduating seniors already have jobs waiting for them. The remaining seven seniors have plans to continue their education in college.

Adcock wants to see those numbers grow and believes they can if the district grows the program.

Business and industries are looking at the Loyd Star students who graduate from the program because they tend to have better work ethics and better skill sets, Sumrall said. “And they know how to follow directions,” he said.

Students can begin the program in the eighth grade and continue with several different programs through senior year. Classes include agriculture science technology, animal science and agriculture mechanics.

Adcock told the school board Thursday during a work session that he recommends the Lincoln County School District duplicate Loyd Star’s strong program at each school or bring it to a central location and provide transportation. “That would be awesome and great,” he said.

The Loyd Star program is regionally famous.

“This is being talked about outside of our state,” he said. “We’re right here and we may not see how impressive this is.”

Board President Kay Coon asked Adcock to research the logistics of making the program available to all students in the district and to bring his recommendation to the board at a future meeting.

He said the program at Loyd Star did not cost the district a great amount of money. “It was the willingness of the staff there and the community to make it happen,” he said.

The program could be duplicated at West Lincoln and Enterprise. “They’d have to want it to make it happen,” he said.

Bogue Chitto doesn’t have a shop or a skills program. “I think it would be good to have a skills program (there),” he said.

Board member Johnny Hart suggested creating centralized programs for students at West Lincoln and Loyd Star and at Enterprise and Bogue Chitto with transportation provided for participants.

“I think it’s something that would do the district well going forward,” Adcock said.