Thursday, March 5, 2020

Local High School Students Help WTCS Celebrate Ag

State technical college system event held with Ag Skills Competition

Eau Claire, WI – When the Wisconsin Technical College System help a celebration of Wisconsin agriculture at Chippewa Valley Technical College Wednesday, March 4, the audience was the future of state agriculture.

About 320 high school students from throughout the area attended the annual Ag Skills Competition at the CVTC Energy Education Center. They listened to speakers including Randy Romanski, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP); Alice in Dairyland Abigail Martin; and Becky Levzow, president of the WTCS board.

“It's important that we invest resources in Wisconsin agriculture,” Romanski said. “We have training and programming for farmers that are looking to the future. You guys are part of that future.”

Romanski urged the students to consider DATCAP a resource for them as students and in their future careers in agriculture.

“We want you to know that our department is here to be a resource to support you and your future,” Romanski continued. “Whether you are interested in being involved in production agriculture or another part of the industry, the research is all there for you.”

Levzow and Martin spoke of the diversity of opportunities in Wisconsin agriculture.

“The opportunities available in agriculture are endless,” Martin said. “There's just so many ways that you can be involved, with over 300 different career pathways you can take. So I'm really encouraged to see you all here today willing to learn about agriculture and hope that you'll be able to find some open doors and new opportunities in Wisconsin’s $8 billion agriculture industry.

“I have confidence in the future of agriculture in this room, and when I look out at this crowd, I feel very proud and very excited to consider what will happen with all of these faces in the future,” Levzow said. “Please continue to keep supporting agriculture.”

CVTC holds the Ag Skills competition each year so high school students from a wide area can come to Eau Claire for a day of agriculture education. The dairy competition, for example, involves teams of students completing tasks at multiple stations, like evaluating feed rations, determining a proper medicinal dosage for a cow, and identifying common animal science tools. 

“This is our largest Ag Skills event ever,” said Adam Wehling, dean of CVTC’s agriculture, energy and transportation programs. “This is also a culminating activity for our dual credit classes with our high school partners. The students learn material in the classroom, apply it here, then go to the Eau Claire Farm Show and talk about job opportunities in the industry.”

The students attending came from 26 schools ranging from Polk to Marathon counties, though most came from within CVTC’s 11-county district. The largest group came from Mondovi with 30 students.

Their instructors thought the day-long trip is well worth it.

The main idea behind bringing the students here is that they have an opportunity to see that what's happening in the classroom is real,” said Sean Vanderwaal, agriculture instructor at Glenwood City High School. “They step into a hands-on setting and see the technical programming that's offered in high demand areas like horticulture, greenhouse management, agronomy and animal science.”

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