At a Glance
Students in their junior year of the animal science program at the School District of Philadelphia’s W.B. Saul High School complete a semester project that requires them to apply each section of theory learned during the course, including previous years’ topics.
The purpose of this project is to integrate all aspects of the farm management curriculum, the related academics, and the students live animal experiences at the farm into a final project where students develop a farm management proposal for a virtual farm. Throughout the project, students are asked to make management decisions such as specie and breed selection, breeding systems, and marketing strategies which then drive management calendars regarding breeding and parturition dates. Additionally, students make choices regarding health and quality assurance programs for their farms. Each decision needs to be explained and defended.
Each semester the project sections and final exam are fine-tuned to coordinate with the topics covered in depth by that particular class. At the culmination of the course the students submit a farm management proposal and can use the project report as a resource during the final examination.
To reinforce this project, the school operates a farm located in the City of Philadelphia. One highlight at the farm is the lambing project. Students experience the actual birth of lambs on the farm. The program has a webcam that the public can view to check in on the lambs as the students and instructors assist in the birthing experience. This type of experience drives home the need for farm management, animal sciences, and many other life skills.
Origin / Implementation
This project was first implemented in 2005. It was started as a way to tie the curriculum together, to provide students with higher order thinking, to improve writing skills and data analysis, and to assess students’ learning across the animal science curriculum. It has been refined and is improved upon reflection annually.
Results / Impact
The project provides students with a solid understanding of the requirements of successful farm management. Students are also required to integrate elements of a complex system and diverse information sources to develop and defend a decision making process. This directly relates to real world problem solving strategies.
Many students who have matriculated into agriculture programs in area colleges report that they are significantly ahead of their fellow students and have had to complete a similar project in college credit-based farm management courses.
Dave Kipphut, Deputy Chief, CTE
School District of Philadelphia
Tamera Conaway, Principal
W.B.Saul High School
Gail Koskela, Instructor
W.B.Saul High School