Agriscience teacher Julie Alfonso started teaching full-time at Strawberry Crest High School in Plant City in October of 2012. Since that time, the program has grown 78 rows of strawberries, their plants are flourishing, and one of the Boer goats they acquired before Thanksgiving recently gave birth to a baby that students named Rudy. The Agricultural Technologies and Animal Science classes are in the process of building a fence to house future cattle, and they plan to expand their operations to house additional livestock.
"Overall, moving forward is that we will be able to have more animals on site," Alfonso said. Currently all of their cattle, rabbits, chickens, and other livestock are off site.
Although the school is looking to expand their 3-year-old agriculture program, they are also building a strong foundation from within. Students apply real world science in their environmental classes with hands-on activities. In a recent trip to Crystal Springs, the class gained knowledge and experience in water testing.
"We had to do elevation testing and then identify the micro-organisms," said Rachelle Sapp, a student in the agriscience program.
Alfonso explained that the department's objective is for the agriculture classes to complement their students' other studies, especially in areas such as science and mathematics. For example, if the lesson plan in a math class for that day was on measurements and area, then the lesson plan in the agriscience class would be on measuring lands and fields. The goal is to show how studies such as math and science can be applied for everyday use.
"We're more than about just digging in the dirt," Alfonso said.