Background Knowledge of CPI The agriculture program at Central PA Institute was first introduced in 1969. This program features one course that pertains to a certain area or aspect of agriculture. Throughout the decades the program has changed. When it first opened it was a Natural Resources Management course then it was changed to Horticulture, Floriculture after that, and today it is a Horticulture and Landscaping course. The current Agriculture Educator at CPI is Mr. Joe Luther, and this is his eighth year teaching at CPI.
SAE Projects and FFA Mr. Luther encourages his students to create a Supervised Agricultural Experience project in the category of exploratory. Some examples he gives students are job shadowing, working with contractors, exploring personal interests, co-op, and one student of his had raised and trained two Seeing Eye dogs through her local 4H program. The students at CPI have became heavily involved with the FFA program over the past two years. Their main area is in the Nursery/Landscaping CDE and Floriculture CDE at State Activities week. In the fall of 2015, CPI's Nursery/Landscaping team placed second at The Big E competition. In the fall of 2016 they also placed second at The Big E for landscape design. This past year several students competed in the Junior and Senior Prepared Public Speaking LDE. Each student that had competed moved on to the regional level. From the regional event one moved on to the state level.
Throughout the past several years Mr. Luther has had his class participate in the HeroScape Program which provides new additions of landscaping to war veterans homes at no cost. The students love getting the opportunity to give back to the community in this way because it goes to those who have served our country.
Pennsylvania Farm Show
Every year, CPI competes at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in several different events including Landscape Design, to small competitions like the hanging basket competition. Over the past three years CPI has won the Landscape Design competition. Mr. Luther was surprised by the results. "Our success this year was a huge surprise to myself and everyone in our class. We expected some very strong competition, which we received, and when we came out on top, we were ecstatic. My students continue to innovate our class by bringing new ideas from their individual minds and imaginations." Since all of his students come from different areas they each have different ideas and interpretations to a design. Some of these range from modern to classical styles; which is drawn from the areas where they live. Many of his students have came into class only knowing basic knowledge and ideas about landscaping designs. After their two or three years in the class they have created a natural talent and eye for designing landscapes and other projects. They also learn how to focus on small details and final touches, which leads to big results.
Collaboration of CPI and Penn State
Dr. John Ewing teaches AEE 349; Shop Processes for Agricultural Educators, at CPI. There are many benefits to this course being held at CPI including the state of the art facilities that all the course work can be offered in one location. This relationship benefits the students in the Horticulture and Landscaping class because they are able to see college level courses happening in their own shop. It also provides an opportunity for the perspective student teachers to get observation hours, and teach Mr. Luther's students mini lessons before they start their student teaching experiences.