Tuesday, February 14, 2017

February Program of the Month: Columbia Montour AVTS

All across the great state of Pennsylvania there are 145 school districts that have Agriculture Education courses and the FFA program. Each month we like to highlight a chapter that has stood out from the rest of the chapters. February's program of the month goes to Columbia Montour Area Vocational-Technical School or otherwise know as the Columbia Montour A.V.T.S. Chapter!

Background Knowledge
Columbia Montour A.V.T.S has a single teacher Agriculture Program located in Bloomsburg, PA. The first agriculture program was started in 1969 at the inception of the CTC. Two teachers had taught the program prior to Miss Appleman. John McAllister was the first teacher of the program then Tim Mauk took over the program and retired in 2014. This is Miss Appleman's third year teaching the program at Columbia Montour A.V.T.S.

Class Instruction

The school is a comprehensive career and technical center which means, after the students initial freshman year they select a vocational program and commit their last three years to that specific program. The CTC offers seventeen vocational training programs, in addition to the comprehensive academic course load.  Students attend Columbia Montour A.V.T.S. from seven sending school districts. Miss Appleman's agriculture program operates on the Applied Horticulture CIP code but she also educates the students in the following areas: Advanced Botany, Advanced Soil Science, Plant Propagation Methods, Safe Tractor and Machinery Operations, Landscape Drafting and Design, Masonry and Hardscape, Small Gas Engines, Introduction to Plumbing and Electricity, Greenhouse Productions Sustainable Technologies (Aquaponics and Hydroponics), Integrated Pest Management, Turfgrass Science, and Introduction to Leadership and Public Speaking. The learning labs consist of two greenhouses, an aquaponics system, a regulation sized putting green, a small forested area, ag mechanics shop, computer drafting room, and raised garden beds. The program has an annual fish fry with Tilapia from their aquaponics system to culminate the year. They also have a winter sale in December to sell the 1000+ poinsettias they grow, in addition to the wreaths and other greenery items the students make. Columbia Montour A.V.T.S. holds an annual spring bedding sale in May to sell the 10,000+ plants the students raise in the two greenhouses.

Supervised Agriculture Experiences (SAE's)

All of Miss Appleman's students are FFA members with an active AET account, and all students by the end of their sophomore year have a SAE, and a minimum of 15 hours of community service. The school also offers a SAE course for students who have a passion for agriculture and the FFA, but are in different vocational training programs such as welding and carpentry. Her juniors and seniors annually engage in a two week internship in March which they all keep records on an Exploratory SAE, and most of the students maintain a Paid Placement SAE. The school often encourages the students to go out on Co-Op the last semester of their junior year and throughout their senior year, if they are eligible. Miss Appleman's students work at local greenhouses, nurseries, landscape companies, and floral ships during their Co-Op which feeds right into their SAE programs. 

FFA Program

This year Miss Appleman had one Keystone Degree recipient and seven FFA Jacket scholarship recipients at Mid-Winter Convention. Last year she had ten students receive their Keystone Degree. The chapter always attends Fall Leadership Conference (FLC), Farm Show, and State Activities Week. The students are also involved in competing at the Bloomsburg Fair every year. They are also very active in the community, helping maintain the Bloomsburg Fountain and the Columbia County Veteran's Memorial Park. The chapter also buys a pig from the county fair annually, and donates the meat to families in need around the schools community. Some recent successes of the Columbia Montour A.V.T.S chapter include: first place in the area Horse Evaluation CDE, first and second place in the area Agriculture Sales CDE.  This past year, a student also qualified for State Activities Week at Penn State University for the Creed Speaking LDE.

Sounds like Miss Appleman keeps herself busy investing in the future of agriculture at Columbia Montour A.V.T.S.  Congratulations on being named Program of the Month for February!

To learn more about starting on the path to having a career that makes a positive impact on the lives of students across the globe by becoming an agricultural educator, please contact the agricultural teacher education program at teachag@psu.eduFollow us on Twitter at TeachAgPSUon Facebookor on our blog

Luke Kerstetter

Student Blogger

Twitter Handle: @lmkerstetter96

2020 Agricultural Education Student Teacher 

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