High School awarded for agriculture program

The students of Forest Lake Area High School are discovering agriculture careers in a whole new way, thanks to a passionate faculty and innovative new facilities at the school. The high school’s agriculture department was recently honored as the 2018 Outstanding Middle School/High School Program by the Minnesota Association of Agricultural Educators.

The honor recognizes the school’s dynamic program, which goes well beyond the scope of traditional farming and introduces its students to newly evolving areas of agriculture, including aquaponics, alternative energies and biotechnology.

“There is a growing demand for trained professionals to enter careers in this area,” said Mike Miron, Forest Lake Agriculture teacher and department chair. Miron, along with agriculture teachers Veronica Ward and Ann Tauzell stay up to date on these career needs and other emerging trends through an active advisory board whose members work in a variety of diverse agricultural businesses.

“Students appreciate that our curriculum is relevant,” Miron said. “They may not ultimately pursue a career within the agriculture, food or natural resources pathway, but they will all be affected by these important areas in their everyday life.”

Miron added that many of his students enjoy the active learning opportunities within the department, which includes a variety of hands-on laboratory experiences. In 2017, the school opened a new Agriculture and Science Center with a modern greenhouse and lab space. The faculty has expanded their lab programming to teach sophisticated techniques for things like soil and water analysis, electrophoresis, plant propagation and nutritional analysis.

The program also provides an opportunity for students to learn job skills such as landscape design and construction, greenhouse technology and floral design, and several of the department’s classes can be taken for college credit.

“We try to meet the needs of students with diverse interests,” Miron said. “Students can take the skills and information learned in class and apply it in a meaningful way.”

As the Minnesota Outstanding Ag Program award winner, Forest Lake Area High School will also be considered for the national award, which will be announced in November.