It hasn’t been since 1987-1988 that the Macomb High School, right here in our farming community, has had an Ag program. As of the 2015 school year the absent program has returned and is being led by WIU grad Wyatt McGrew.
For years now students were offered Ag courses through a partnership with the West Prairie School District. Although beneficial for the time being, it had its limitations. Due to the push from parents, the community, and huge support from the Macomb Agriscience Association (MAA) the Macomb School District was able to rebuild the program. McGrew stated that “these parents and community members recognize that agriculture is a vital part of our local, state, and national economies and that we need educated, skillful individuals who are willing to work in the agricultural industry and continue to make it even stronger.” According to McGrew student response has been great. Reaching out to all students, those without an agriculture background are up for a challenge and ready to try something new.
The future looks bright for the program as there has been current discussion of implementing horticulture facilities, mechanics lab, FFA test plots, and a precision Ag program.
Along with the Ag program the Macomb FFA Chapter has been reinstated. When asked if there has been a good response from and outside of those students previously in the West Prairie Chapter McGrew responded:
“At first, students who had attended classes at West Prairie were hesitant because of the fact that this was something new and they were comfortable with the program that was in place at West Prairie. They had developed relationships with their fellow members and had already developed a set of plans/goals for their future high school FFA/Ag Ed careers. Now that we are off and going, their responses have been great and they are my leaders who know the benefit of ag programs and the impact that the FFA has on a student.”
The chapter is scheduled to participate in nearly all local/section level events this year. They are working toward increasing their involvement in the community through volunteer work and fundraising.
It is important to give students from such a small and ag based area the maximum amount of opportunity in the field. I hope that there is positive feedback not only for the Macomb School District and the community but also for our ag department here at Western Illinois University. Increasing the number of students passionate about agriculture in Macomb will hopefully keep those students local and increase enrollment in the School of Ag. I personally cannot wait to see the success of the program in the years to come.
McGrew’s additional comments:
“This program would not have happened had it not been for the support of the Macomb Agriscience Association (MAA), as well as the numerous parents, community member, and businesses who have pooled together and worked to make this program have a solid foundation. We have a large responsibility to develop this program; but this program also has the potential to be something great, to do great things, and to develop quality leaders for the Macomb Community in the years to come!.”
Thank you for reading my post! My name is Alexis Matthews and I am locally from Colchester, IL. I am a junior here at WIU majoring in Ag Science with an Animal Science minor. I’m involved in Hoof-n-Horn and the Ag business club. I have a passion of working with animals on the farm and at the veterinary clinic where I’m employed.