The National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) recently named the Newton County Young Farmer chapter the Region V Outstanding Postsecondary Agriculture Program of the Year, the Newton County School System announced.
This is the highest level of competition and recognition to be attained with the association, a news release stated.
According to Marcus Pollard, Newton College & Career Academy Agriculture Education instructor and Young Farmer Advisor, the local chapter competed against state winners from Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
The Newton County chapter will be recognized at the 2020 NAAE National Convention in December.
“When I talk to people about what we are doing in our agricultural education classes in Newton County, I often get a response of how people wish they had the opportunity to learn skills like the ones we teach when they were in high school,” said Pollard.
“The Newton County Young Farmers Association strives to create opportunities for our community members to continue to develop or learn new skills related to agriculture in a social environment.
“Admittedly, the name is misleading because I often have to tell people that you don’t have to be young or a farmer, just interested in agriculture. We have had a variety of classes on growing the ultimate tomato gardens, the fundamentals of welding, tractor safety, canning vegetables, beekeeping, visiting a dairy farm, and field dressing deer.
“The great thing is that the members choose the topics they want to learn about and I help create the class. We learn a lot, but always have a good time while doing it.”
According to the NAAE website, the Outstanding Postsecondary Agriculture Program Award recognizes exemplary postsecondary institutions and full-time young farmer and adult agriculture education programs.
Qualifying agriculture education program staff must devote at least 50 percent of their teaching time to this level of instruction. The 2020 NAAE Outstanding Postsecondary Agriculture Program Award is sponsored by Bayer as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.
“When we set out to implement a Young Farmer program in Newton County several years ago, we knew the need was great and the program had a lot of potential,” said Tim Schmitt, NCSS director of CTAE and Workforce Innovation. “This NAAE recognition is well deserved and serves as a testament to Newton County's commitment to Agriculture Education, not only within our schools, but within the community as well. Dr. Pollard and our community young farmers deserve all the credit for this recognition.”
Pollard said, “We’re always looking for more people to get involved, regardless of their current involvement in agriculture.”He said they typically have classes once a month. Those interested can call him at the school at 678-625-6769, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow the Newton County Young Farmers Association Facebook page.