Dec 18 – Students at Eisenhower and MacArthur High Schools will be able to explore opportunities in agribusiness with the Dwayne Andreas Ag Academy, made possible by a $1.65 million gift from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.
Ag educators at both high schools will lead the students through the formal academic and field-based FFA curriculum, with an emphasis on career development in the agriculture, beginning in fall 2018. Howard G. Buffett, Chairman and CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, said this program is meant to get children excited about agribusiness. “We have to engage more young people to pursue opportunities in agriculture if we want the United States to continue to be a leader in global food security.” He went on to say the Academy’s namesake, Dwayne Andreas, was “a true pioneer who helped make the U.S. a global leader in agribusiness-we hope this Academy inspires the next generation of leaders to build on his legacy.”
The Academy will incorporate a Living Science Farm and collaborate with agribusiness companies across Illinois. DPS Superintendent Dr. Paul Fregeau said this program will help students see the many facets of the agriculture industry. “There are advancements in technology; there’s engineering there; there’s marketing; there’s business; it’s chemistry, biology; whatever kids may be interested in, they can link that to the agriculture industry.”
Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe shared Dr. Fregueau’s sentiments and said during Monday’s press conference at Eisenhower High School that Decatur was known as the soy bean capital of the world.”You wonder maybe if you’re a kid in high school, ‘What does that mean if I’m not a farmer?’ Well, our companies right here in Decatur, Illinois feed the rest of the world. Dr. Fregeau mentioned pride and we should all take a great deal of pride in that, but you don’t have to be a farmer to be part of the global importance of our agribusiness companies.”
Decatur Public Schools has put an emphasis on getting students ready for the working world through career development. Zach Shields, Decatur Public Schools Foundation Director, said this Academy will help students get hands-on experience and see if they have a future in agribusiness. “I think that is something that is hard unless you can demonstrate it. You can talk about it until you’re blue in the face, but unless the kids see ‘Hey, here’s how this could benefit or find a job that will sustain me for my whole life;’ it’s tough to do unless you have something like this.”
If your child is interested in being a part of the Academy, please contact Zach Shields at (217) 362-3042 or firstname.lastname@example.org.