Mohawk gets planning grant for agricultural program

  • Jean Bruffee, right, coordinator of the HAY program, Hawlemont Agricultural Youth, gives legislators a tour of the Hawlemont Schools efforts to teach kids the basics of farming and business. Recorder file photo/Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Published: 8/19/2016 3:48:22 PM

BUCKLAND — Students at the Mohawk Trail Regional School interested in a career in agriculture may soon be able to get their start while still in high school.

School officials are planning to create a career path for secondary students to study sustainable agriculture and food systems. The program would be in collaboration with Greenfield Community College and with local farms willing to work with students.

As the planning process begins for this new curriculum, Mohawk will host a community information meeting Thursday, Aug. 25, beginning at 5 p.m. at the Mohawk Trail Regional School. School officials hope that families and residents from Mohawk member towns will provide input that may help with developing this new educational plan.

Recently, Mohawk received a $6,000 Perkins Career and Technical Education Partnership planning grant from the state to put together a program that explores agriculture through middle school STEM (Science, Technology, English and Mathematics) courses, club activities and field trips.

In high school, students will have the opportunity to enroll in school-based agricultural science courses, take dual-enrollment school-year and summer courses at GCC, participate in farming internships, and finish with an agriculture-focused Senior Capstone project, according to Sarah Jetzon, Mohawk’s director of curriculum and instruction for Grades 7 through 12. Jetzon wrote the grant application. She says Mohawk has about three months to flesh out its proposal and apply for an implementation grant of up to $150,000. This second grant would pay for infrastructure, staffing and professional development for the teaching staff.

“This planning grant is a natural for our rural community,” said school Superintendent Michael Buoniconti. “By leveraging Mohawk’s growing STEM program and Hawlemont’s amazing agriculturally based HAY (Hawlemont, Agriculture and You) program, we are in excellent position to collaborate with GCC and afford our students exciting (career technology education) opportunities.”

Jetzon said Mohawk was awarded this grant in part because “we are in a strong position to build upon many existing regional resources and relationships in Franklin County and in the Hilltowns. For instance, GCC has its own Sustainable Agriculture and Green Energy initiative and a degree program in farming and food systems.

Also the Red Gate Farm Education Center in Buckland and the 4-H program through the University of Massachusetts Amherst Extension. Also the successful Hawlemont HAY program, which uses hands-on agricultural experiences to teach elementary students the principals of math and science, among other issues, will serve as a model and point of collaboration for both students and educators.

For more information, contact the superintendent’s office at Mohawk at 413-625-0192, ext. 1.


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