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 Jamie Pettit
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From: Saturday, June 24, 2017 9:00 AM -0400
Subject:Agriculture SHSM: A Look Ahead
Secondary students who are interested in learning about the practical and theoretical sides of farming are being encouraged to enroll in Bluewater District School Board’s Agriculture Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program. Although Chesley District Community School will become a JK -8 school in September, this popular and unique program will continue to be offered on the Chesley site in Semester Two.  

Image of teacher Dennis Watson working in the barn; chickens in background During a recent tour of the facilities, students who are currently enrolled in the program were eager to share their experiences.  Ally Curry, who comes from a farming background and has a passion for the industry, looks forward to continuing her education after graduation in the University of Guelph’s Agriculture program.  She feels that Bluewater’s Agriculture SHSM, especially the “hands-on barn aspect”, has been an invaluable learning experience in helping her to move toward that goal.  The students have enjoyed the opportunity of working with pigs, steers, chickens, rabbits, sheep, a goat, and even a veal calf donated by a student’s dad.  The theoretical classroom component, which includes learning about calculations such as feed to weight ratios and average daily gains as well as field trips to the Keady Market, is also a critically important part of the program.  

Above all, the Agriculture SHSM is for any student regardless of their background and level of farm experience.  As Ally pointed out, the program provides genuine mentorship and peer building opportunities through “the farm kids helping the non-farm kids.”  She was also quick to compliment teacher Dennis Watson, whose exemplary work ethic and passionate leadership have been a key to the program’s tremendous success.  

Registrations are already being accepted for Semester Two of the 2017 – 2018 school year.  Interested students can contact their school’s Guidance department for more information.  Details are also available at or by viewing the video below, which includes student and staff interviews.                  

Image of cattle in the barnImage of student in the barn with cattle
Image of upper level of the barn where square hay bales are stored Image of pigs in the mud