Roy-Hart celebrates success of K-12 ag education program

Posted 2 March 2022 at 7:31 pm

Press Release, Roy-Hart Central School

Provided photo: Fourth-grade students from Royalton-Hartland Elementary School are excited about the results of their agricultural study project on worms that was a display at a district-wide celebration of the K-12 Agricultural Center of Excellence. The students now have a better understanding of how worms can add fertility to soil and help grow crops. Participating in the project are (from left to right) teacher Jessica Monaco and students Sylas Jones, Chloe Carpenter and Mason Heideman.

MIDDLEPORT – The Royalton-Hartland School District community came together today to celebrate the achievements made in the past four years and future plans for its innovative K-12 Agricultural Education Center of Excellence Program.

School Board leaders, teachers, students, Agriculture Foundation board members, government representatives and community volunteers participated in a celebration event that included tours of the newly-renovated Small Animal Care, Food Science and Agri-Science Labs, an overview of ongoing Farm-to-School activities at the Elementary, Middle and High Schools, accomplishments of the FFA, and future plans for the Ag program.

“With the leadership of the District’s Board of Education and many dedicated partners, we have made great strides in providing opportunities for our many students to explore agriculture and the environment, ultimately pursuing them in college studies with the hope many return to Niagara County to contribute to the local agriculture industry,” said Dr. Hank Stopinski, Roy-Hart superintendent of schools.

“Many event attendees Wednesday saw first-hand the momentum that is building behind agriculture education and career preparation, how engaging and innovative our programs have become and the tremendous dedication driving it on a staff and community-wide basis,” he said.

Roy-Hart High School students have more reason now to pursue a higher education in agricultural sciences with the opening of the three new labs, which in further detail are:

  • Small Animal Care Lab: This lab is designed to support the animal science curriculum and provide hands-on learning opportunities for students. Grooming, health exams, sanitation and other small animal concepts are taught in this area.
  • Food Science Lab: The lab/classroom space features the latest instructional technology and can serve up to 30 students. It is equipped with multiple workstations for the preparation and processing of food. The lab will be used during the school day in support of the Food Science class, in the evenings and weekends for adult continuing education and special immersion/enrichment experiences for students.
  • Agri-Science Lab: This large classroom/lab is designed to allow students to have hands-on learning applications for multiple agricultural education concepts that include, but are not limited to large animal care, aquaponics, hydroponics and floral design.

The Roy-Hart Agricultural Education Center of Excellence Program has also seen the creation of an Outdoor Learning Lab at the Roy-Hart Elementary School, a STEM lab at the high school, and the infusion of a Farm-to-School studies program in the middle school curriculum.

Primary financing for the labs came through funds made available by FMC Corporation to be requested by the Royalton-Hartland School District for qualified projects under the Environmental Benefit Projects Policy of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), in accordance with a 2019 Order on Consent between FMC and NYSDEC.

Additional funding for the program also came from the Grigg Lewis Foundation, with the support of the non-profit Royalton-Hartland Agriculture Foundation, State Farm and ExxonMobil.

Roy-Hart also received an $87,419 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service Farm-to-School Program to further support the high school Food Science Lab with kitchen equipment and stipends for teachers to implement the Food Science curriculum, as well as the build-out of the middle school’s Family and Consumer Science Lab.