Twin Bridges School Board hears report on online ag classes

The Twin Bridges school board received a progress report on the online agricultural education program at their meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 18.

The program was added to the school curriculum this year in an effort to incorporate agriculture education into the school district. Known as the Nelson Academy of Agricultural Sciences Online, the digital classes are available to junior high and high school students.

Board member Lori Harshbarger helped compile the report, and she said there are positive and negative aspects to the curriculum. There is a variety of classes high school students may select within the program, and the digital component presents material that students would not otherwise have access to.

At the same time, the online curriculum removes the opportunity for hands-on learning – an invaluable educational experience.

“It takes a big commitment from the parents, and it’s harder for the kids,” Harshbarger said. “If we were able to get an actual ag program I think it would be better, but if we’re not able to then it’s better than not having anything.”

Part of the reason for incorporating the digital classes into the curriculum is the cost is significantly less than hiring an ag ed teacher for the school.

“The school board is going to have to decide ‘Do we want to keep this online program or is our intention to, in fact, get the actual instructor?’,” said Harshbarger.

The board received a request to join the Montana High School Rodeo Association. While members of the public pointed out that other high schools have supported successful rodeo programs, superintendent Chad Johnson said he was not in favor of adopting the program due to a lack of information about the academic policy.

The board also heard a petition from an exchange student to enroll as a senior and participate in senior class activities.
The student was enrolled as a junior and will have an additional year of high-school equivalent classes next year upon returning to their home country. The board carried a motion to allow the student to receive an honorary Twin Bridges diploma and participate in graduation ceremonies. The senior class will determine whether or not the student will be invited to attend their class trip this spring.

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