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February 02, 2012   Email to Friend 

Cordova High School Builds Ag Department
Melissa Martin

Thanks to a grant from the Walker County Farmers Federation, students in Cordova High School’s agriscience program can get hands-on experience in carpentry skills. Recognizing the importance of building interest in trades like sawing, framing and finishing, the county Federation gave the school $50,000 to help develop its agricultural education department.
In an effort to build a solid foundation for agricultural education, the Walker County Farmers Federation contributed $50,000 to develop Cordova High School’s agriscience and career tech program. The money will help purchase equipment, textbooks and other supplies.

Instructor Chad Tuggle, a former Spanish teacher, gained momentum for the new program with encouragement from Cordova Principal Kathy Vinston and Walker County Schools Superintendent Jason Adkins. Tuggle, Vinston and Adkins saw the need for an agriscience department and knew it would be a good way to encourage at-risk students to stay in school.

“Some students need an outlet that doesn’t involve a ball or a musical instrument,” said Tuggle. “This program is great for students who love to put their hands and minds to work and have a tangible product once they’re done. It’s a great way for them to get a sense of accomplishment and develop a strong work ethic.”

Tuggle, who has a background in construction and is a certified retaining wall installer, instructs his students on trade techniques including sawing, framing and finishing. They’ve made toolboxes, birdhouses and other small projects, but to fully master construction skills, students are in the planning stages of building a three-tiered pergola for an outdoor lunchroom, complete with picnic tables and benches. To learn more about agriscience, Cordova students will also build a greenhouse and chicken coop.

“Poultry is an important commodity in our area,” said Tuggle. “What better way to get students interested in possibly pursuing farming than by exposing them to it first-hand?”

Walker County Farmers Federation President Dorman Grace is optimistic about how the agriscience program will benefit Cordova students and the Walker County area.

“There are a lot of kids who get left out because they’re not athletes,” said Grace. “Now, they can go to shop class and learn skills they aren’t getting elsewhere that they can carry with them when they become part of the workforce.”

Matthew Durdin, area 2 organization director for the Alabama Farmers Federation, said it is important to involve youth in agriscience education.

“When you offer this type of program, it keeps 20- to -30 percent of students in school,” said Durdin. “They learn useful skills, but also develop a sense of responsibility.” To date, funding from Walker County Farmers Federation has allowed Tuggle to purchase equipment including a portable saw mill, a miter saw and hand tools.


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