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PA Department of Education Highlights Agriculture Education in Danville


Danville, PA - Today, Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Executive Deputy Secretary Angela Fitterer visited Danville Area High School to highlight how their agriculture programs are helping to prepare students for the future.

“Agriculture is one of Pennsylvania’s biggest industries and a major driver for our economy. Giving students the chance to explore potential careers in agriculture is an investment in the future workforce of the Commonwealth,” said Executive Deputy Secretary Fitterer. “Today’s students are our future workers, leaders, and innovators. Providing them with opportunities to learn about important industries in Pennsylvania and gain hands-on experience is invaluable for both students and the Commonwealth as a whole.”

In the fall of 2022, Danville Area High School’s agriculture science teacher, Van Wagner, created a bridge between the school’s honors veterinary science program and their local animal shelter, the Pennsylvania SPCA in Montour County. Students in the class have the opportunity to spend one class period each week volunteering at the shelter, not only helping out where help is needed, but also gaining valuable hands-on skills and knowledge that will help them in their future careers. The students bathe dogs, clean water troughs for horses, socialized cats, prepare animals for adoption, and more.

“The students in the program engage in hands-on learning about things like animal care, facility design and management, animal nutrition, veterinary care, wildlife management, environmental resource management,” said Wagner. “I strive to create an atmosphere where all learners feel safe and welcome."  

The agriculture program at Danville is nothing new; both teachers, Van Wagner and Mike Shultz, are alumni of the program. The program continues to innovate to prepare students for careers in the agriculture sector.

“The Danville Agriculture program has a long tradition of strong community support, and we are fortunate to have an active and engaged Ag Advisory Board. As we seek to provide courses that are relevant to our students' future plans, our program is constantly adapting to the changes in agriculture reflected in our community,” said Shultz. “Our Ag Advisory Board helps to keep us grounded and relevant to what our students will need to know as they enter college or the workforce. The FFA is an integral part of what we do here at Danville, and is the vehicle that our students utilize to enhance their personal leadership skills.”

To help every Pennsylvania student chart their own course and get the opportunity to succeed, Governor Shapiro’s 2023-24 budget proposal increases Basic Education Funding by $567.37 million. It also invests $23.8 million in a comprehensive plan to support apprenticeships and bring career and technical education back into the classroom. In addition, this budget supports the Commonwealth’s rich heritage of agricultural excellence by building on investments to agriculture through workforce and resource needs. 

For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Education, please visit the website or follow PDE on InstagramFacebookTwitterYouTube, or Pinterest.

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