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Cultivating the county’s agricultural science academy [Letter]

At the Oct. 17 Howard County Board of Education meeting, the approval of a new Agricultural Science Academy was granted for fiscal 2018. Over the last several years, members of the agriculture community have lobbied the Department of Education to provide high school students with an interest in pursuing a career in agriculture a program of studies.

The new Agricultural Science Academy will follow the Curriculum for Agriculture Science Education (CASE) curriculum, which is a national program of study with a rigorous curriculum. CASE incorporates the National Academic Standards and Agriculture Food and Natural Resources Content Standards.

In Maryland, agriculture is the largest commercial industry and employs approximately 350,000 people. In Howard County, agriculture is among the top five industries and accounts for over $200 million in sales. Additionally, 25 percent of Howard County's land is used for agriculture, and the county has 335 farms.

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High school students will be registering for next year's courses in January. I am hopeful that high school counselors will invest their time to learn about the opportunities that the CASE program's Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources course can provide to students.

I applaud the leadership of both the Board of Education and the Interim Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano for their understanding of the importance of Agricultural Science education for the students in Howard County. It is exciting to know that this new opportunity exists for our students because of the impact agriculture plays in our daily lives.

Joe Dymek

Ellicott City

The writer, a retired county teacher, counselor and administrator, is president of the Maryland Agriculture Education Foundation

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