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'Integrating it all the time': Georgia House bill makes elementary agriculture programs permanent

HB 1303 expands elementary agriculture programs to the yearly school curriculum.

BYRON, Ga. — Governor Brian Kemp recently signed a new bill making elementary agriculture programs permanent.

Agricultural pilot programs at some schools like Kay Road Elementary in Byron were already introduced. Now, this makes it permanent and some students get to bring their farm life skills from home into the classroom.

"It's also fun because you get to see them at home and at school," said fifth-grader, Trinidad Martinez.

She has over 20 chickens at home, so she knows what it's like to have them.

Kay Road Elementary School started different STEM programs but have included agriculture. One of the programs they started was STEAM Wednesdays. 

House Representative and Owner of Dickey Farms Robert Dickey says teaching agriculture at a young age is also a great way to include science, technology, engineering, and math.

"Just wanted the young children to get that experience and know where their food comes from and understand a little bit about agriculture and farming," Dickey said.

In 2018, pilot programs were introduced but the new law makes it more permanent. 

Career, technology, agricultural, and education teacher, James Lassetter says it's important that the students know the relationship agriculture plays in everyday life. 

"From the food we eat, that's obvious, but from the clothes we wear, the lumber we need to build our houses, and the gas we put in our car that has corn in it, so agriculture is wrapped up in everything that we do," Lassetter said.

Part of HB 1303 says schools will have an agricultural teacher and create a curriculum that is grade appropriate. Principal Brandon Hall says feedback from parents have been positive.

"We're just integrating it all the time, so not only are we doing it at the school level, but you're even seeing it in our classrooms," Hall said.

But for Martinez, she's looking forward for one thing.

"Just to see them grow," Martinez said.

You can read more about the new signed bill on Governor Kemp's website.

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