UA Cossatot Ag Program Selected for National Award
December 06, 2017
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – UA Cossatot in DeQueeen, Arkansas, is one of only five programs nationwide that received the 2017 National Association of Agricultural Educators Outstanding Postsecondary/Adult Agricultural Education Program Award. The award was presented at the NAAE annual convention in Nashville on December 6.
UA Cossatot’s program began in 2010 and has grown quickly over the last seven years. The collegiate agriculture program enhances its students’ educational experience with a balance of lecture, meaningful discussion, and project-based learning. Many of its agriculture classes are at capacity or beyond, filling the community’s need for agricultural education, service learning, and industry partnerships.
“People of all ages should have access to a quality education so that they can improve themselves and their communities,” said Kelli Harris, Agriculture Instructor at UA Cossatot. “Education is about more than gaining knowledge – it is about making connections.”
UA Cossatot has a number of strong community relationships that allow students to experience agriculture in a hands-on manner. Most notably was a recent partnership with Tractor Supply Company, where UA Cossatot students hosted a cookout and petting zoo to raise money for the FFA Grants for Growing program. Not only did the UA Cossatot agriculture program receive a $3,000 grant for improvements to their greenhouse, but Tractor Supply Company also donated supplies for the program’s Colts Classic Career Development Event competition, as well as shavings for their various livestock judging competitions.
The Colts Classic Career Development Event competition was another endeavor for UA Cossatot in 2017. The program hosted over 1,400 students to compete in livestock judging, veterinary science, dairy foods, floriculture, and poultry judging. In addition to the experiences the attending students received, they were also provided t-shirts and a pizza lunch – all of which was planned and implemented by the UA Cossatot agriculture students and their instructor.
The agriculture program at UA Cossatot also has collegiate FFA chapter that is actively involved in the DeQueen community. During the 2016-2017 school year, the chapter developed a year-long service project in conjunction with the local animal control officer to help the city animal shelter with its supply of dog food. Through strong community support and donations from faculty, local businesses and students, the UA Cossatot Collegiate FFA Chapter was able to donate more than 1,500 pounds of dog food to the local shelter.
“Students who are encouraged to be active members of their communities usually remain contributing members of their communities, long after their formal education has ended,” added Harris. “Not only does community involvement provide opportunities for students to learn and make connections, but it is also a way to get industry and community leaders invested in our program.”
Each of the six regional Outstanding Postsecondary/Adult Program Award winners was recognized at the NAAE convention in Nashville. The Outstanding Postsecondary/Adult Program Award is sponsored by Monsanto as a special project of the National FFA Foundation. NAAE is the professional association for agricultural educators. Its mission is “professionals providing agricultural education for the global community through visionary leadership, advocacy, and service.” The NAAE office is located in Lexington, Kentucky.
Pictured are NAAE Region II Vice President Hals Beard, UA Cossatot Agri Instructor Kelli Harris, Monsanto representative Valerie Bayes, and NAAE President Scott Stone.