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East Union Middle agriculture program introduces students to a world of possibilities

East Union Middle teacher Morgan Nelms grew up in the suburban Charlotte area, but she’s always been drawn to agriculture and animals. So it seems only natural that the energetic and passionate first-year teacher is spearheading the new agriculture program at the middle school, which is available as a related arts class to all students.

“It’s great – I’m teaching sixth graders about careers in agriculture so they can see what kinds of jobs are in this industry,” she said. “And the seventh and eighth graders are getting more of the science side of agriculture, but also with information about how it can be applied in the real world too.”

Agriculture class Morgan said she hopes the new program at East Union Middle will provide students with the foundation they need if they choose to participate in the robust and popular agriculture program at Forest Hills High. To prepare them, she teaches sixth grade students about the fundamentals of agriculture and also teaches seventh and eighth graders about environmental and natural resources.

Agriculture is the number one industry in the state, Morgan said, and many of her students who live in rural parts of Union County and are exposed to it all of the time.

“But they don’t realize that they can go into this field and be a scientist or a professor – they don’t always see the bigger picture,” she said. “So when I talk to them about the kinds of jobs they can do, then it becomes a lot more real for them.”

Eighth grade student Jacob Griffin said that while he has only been in the class for a few short weeks, he’s already enjoyed learning more about agriculture.

“It’s a great class and our teacher goes over everything that will benefit our education,” he said, adding that they’ve talked about farming and even food companies that are near the school. “She makes us think about how we renew our plants and resources, and she gets us interested in agriculture.”

In the future, Morgan said she hopes to grow the program so that each grade has a distinct linear progression that will provide them with a full three years of knowledge about agriculture. She also has plans to create a Future Farmers of America club at the school similar to the popular club at Forest Hills High. And she’s also open to incorporating animal sciences into the program.

“I always joke that I need to have a cow here at the school,” she said, laughing.

But right now, she makes notes after every class of what the students are interested in to help assess the program as she grows it in the coming years. She also has plans to have the students tour local farms and regularly has her students participate in interactive, hands-on activities.

By the end of the semester, Morgan said she hopes her students realize that agriculture is more than “just a farm on a field” and could lead to careers in management, marketing and more.

“But if they only remember one thing, it would be for them to take anything they are passionate about and turn it into a career,” she said. “Whether it’s in the agriculture industry or not, I want them to know there’s so much more out there than they realize.”