Starting in August 2019, Bartlesville will begin offering agricultural education courses at the middle schools and high school.

Marty Jones will be the new agriculture teacher to lead the district’s first-ever program for Bartlesville students leaning toward careers in agriculture. Jones, an Oklahoma native, received his bachelor of science in agricultural education from Oklahoma State University and has taught Agriculture at Elgin High School and Guthrie High School.

Jones will help identify which curricular offerings best suit the needs of Bartlesville students. It is projected that the program might eventually grow to require two agriculture instructors.

Beginning an agriculture program in Bartlesville Public Schools has been identified as one of the district’s budget priorities for 2019-2020 as part of its strategic planning process, according to Superintendent Chuck McCauley.

“This program will prepare BPS students for careers in production agriculture, agribusiness, and other emerging agricultural-related occupations,” said McCauley.

The district’s 2020 strategic plan includes a community partnerships component. That led to a district-wide staff survey in the 2017-18 academic year for “big dreams” about programs and offerings the district might implement with community partners.

“The importance of this curricula reaches beyond the classroom, as we need agriculture for things like our food, clothing, medications, and housing,” McCauley said.

Courtney Gagan, an English teacher at Madison Middle School who is the district’s 2019 Teacher of the Year, suggested a Future Farmers of America (FFA) program.

The district determined that almost all of the state’s districts with Class 6A schools offer agriculture education. District administrators Matt Hancock and Dr. Stephanie Curtis formed a committee to research state and area agriculture education programs and seek community partners to assist with implementation. Committee members toured programs in Owasso and Jenks and in Dewey.

Hancock and Curtis have presented to the groups such as Washington County CattleWomen and the Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation’s Board of Trustees. Community partners are also stepping up to assist. Trevor Dorsey and Regent Bank have contributed $10,000 to purchase a trailer for a Future Farmers of America program. The Barry W. Lowe & Karen Sue Lowe Education Foundation has contributed $3,000 to purchase middle school and high school agriculture curricula for 2019-20.

The district has identified a spot at Bartlesville High School for a classroom/shop building for the new program. It is likely that in August 2019 voters will consider a bond issue that will include funding for the construction of that facility at the south end of the parking lot near the Bruin Activity Center indoor practice facility. It would not be an animal barn but would provide classroom and shop space.

The state’s CareerTech Agricultural Education Division administers offerings in 362 high schools to prepare students for careers in production agriculture, agribusiness, and other emerging agricultural-related occupations. Programs may include offerings in:Agricultural CommunicationsAgribusiness and ManagementAgricultural Power, Structures, and TechnologyAnimal ScienceFood Products and ProcessingNatural Resources and Environmental SciencePlant and Soil Science