Withrow Students Present at Sustainable Agriculture Conference

February 26, 2019

A group of students recently found themselves on the flip side of the coin – as the teachers.

Five Withrow University High School students led a presentation at Ohio’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, teaching others about their agribusiness studies and urban farming experiences.

“Just Farming: The Path Before Us,” was hosted by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) Feb. 14-16 in Dayton, Ohio. The annual conference attracted 1,200 ecological farmers and gardeners, consumers, organizations, researchers, educators and students from across Ohio and the country. Its mission is to provide an informative and inspiring space for education and networking to help shape the future of Ohio’s organic food and farm movement.

Hope Johnson Gordon, business instructor at Withrow, saw the conference as an opportunity for her students to share what they’ve learned while networking with actual professional farmers.

“In class, we address the three economic questions of agriculture: what to produce, how to produce it and how to allocate it,” said Gordon. “It was gratifying to see these students talk about their projects and answer questions from other adults about what they learned.” The students talk to a professional farmer

Students Steven Blue, Chaney Dozier, Travis Kincaid, Lucas Gibbs and Shenazar Willis led a presentation, “Agribusiness in Urban Youth through 4-H.” Withrow piloted its agribusiness class during the 2017-18 year, so the students talked about what they have learned, the questions they hope to answer yet this school year and even some of the career aspirations they have because of their learning experiences.

The students also visited booths in the exhibition hall, which had plenty of opportunities to sample sustainably-grown, organic produce.

“A major ‘a-ha’ moment for the students was trying the food themselves,” said Gordon. “They were raving about the chocolate milk that came from a local cow and didn’t have preservatives. It really drove home the value of eating healthy, fresh, locally- and sustainably-produced food.”

The class isn’t slowing down any time soon. In addition to the three hydroponic towers in her classroom that have grown lettuce, Gordon is ordering more equipment, so the students have the opportunity to experiment growing other vegetables. She also wants to introduce the economics of the poultry industry before the end of this school year.

“My students have a love of buffalo wings,” said Gordon. “I want them to see it from the beginning, to learn about the overall industry.”

Keep up with the great things happening at Withrow at withrow.cps-k12.org.

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