T. R. Robinette

T. R. Robinette (Photo from mdfarmbureau.com)

CUMBERLAND — Technology isn’t limited to live streaming and self-driving cars. Today, the application of scientific knowledge is crucial to the most basic of human needs including whether and what they eat.

T. R. Robinette drove home that point on Tuesday while he explained to the Allegany County school board why they should reinstate the district’s agricultural education programs.

The school system in 2015 eliminated agricultural science classes and the Future Farmers of America program for the first time in more than 80 years.

Robinette, Allegany County Farm Bureau president, also talked of myriad job opportunities that could be open to students that have an agricultural education.

“Agriculture is a whole lot more than just a bunch of farmers,” he said and added that he and other industry members were at the Allegany County Public Schools board meeting to show support for the program’s reinstatement, which was listed as a consideration item on the district’s Fiscal 2020 budget development priorities menu. “It’s science … We really need the ag program back in the school.”

Indeed.

Today’s Maryland agribusiness industry ranges from microbreweries to aquaculture operations, according to the state’s commerce department.

“Maryland’s agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industries generate $828 million in gross state product,” according to the department’s website commerce.maryland.gov.

Additionally, the University of Maryland Extension Service has a strong presence in Allegany County with various agricultural and natural resources programs.

The extension also sponsors the 4-H program, which, in addition to agriculture, gives students access to hands-on projects in areas including health, science and citizenship.

The state also offers a variety of programs and incentives for folks who enter certain areas of the agricultural industry.

The school board voted to move forward with exploration of the agricultural curriculum as part of items on the budget proposal priority list.

Also discussed at the ACPS board meeting, which was attended by roughly 80 people: 

• Vince Montana, ACPS director of facilities, talked of the need to replace outdated artificial turf at Greenway Stadium. 

• Carmen Jackson, Allegany County NAACP Branch 7007 president, said she was concerned about the way the board recently hired an interim law firm. “The process has not been transparent,” she said.

• Three students said they were concerned that multiple AP final exams are often held too close together. Some students had three tests in a day, said student board member Eesha Bokil. “It’s going to impact the test grades,” she said.

Teresa McMinn is the digital editor at Cumberland Times-News. Email her at tmcminn@times-news.com, call/text her at 304-639-2371 and follow her on Twitter.

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