New Indiana school offers hands-on learning on 600+ acre farm

New Indiana school focuses on agriculture training

MORGANTOWN, Ind. -- Online students in Indiana are about to get their hands dirty. A new tuition-free charter school in the state is accepting enrollment for Indiana residents who want to get a hands-on look at the agriculture industry. 

Indiana Agriculture & Technology School is a virtual school that pairs a typical Core 40/Core 40 Honors degree with labs and project-based learning on the farm. Students from across the state will travel to Morgantown, Indiana once a month to a 600+ acre farm.

One-third of the land is pasture, one-third is tillable crop, and the rest is forest. The various landscapes will allow students the opportunity to study biosciences, agribusiness, environmental science, forestry, and even drone technology.

"With the aging population within farming communities, we want to get kids exposed to this industry," says Keith Marsh, the school's Executive Director and Chief Academic Officer. "We want to show kids all aspects of agriculture, the science and the business side and also pesticides and veterinary work."

On the farm, students will get an up-close look at erosion, animal science, and wetland labs. At home, the students will take virtual classes for their core subjects along with AP opportunities for college credit. Although the majority of the days are spent online, Marsh says this program is still very personal.

"Our enrollment is intentionally small," says Marsh. " We want to provide a more individualized touch than traditional online schools."

He says at least 4 teachers will be assigned to each enrolled student for each course taken and enrollment will be capped at 160 students per grade level.

The Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson United School Corporation in Johnson County is the school's authorizer, giving a nod to the importance of agriculture in the Trafalgar community.

The new charter school is just another example of how schools can adapt to a changing job market. Marsh says they plan to establish a network of corporate and farming partners across the state to help students land internships and then jobs. The program works to get students college-ready along with skills needed in the field. 

"It's really important to note that not every kid will go to college," says Marsh. "We are designed to fully prepare them to go to college but to also get them ready for the workforce."

He says their hands-on training programs at the farm will help get students ready for well-paying jobs after graduation and the ability to be exposed to future employers before they even graduate from high school.

The idea for the farm-school concept came from Allan Sutherlin, one of the school's founders. He grew up on a farm and was inspired to create a school centered around all aspects of the ag industry.

"Agriculture is a key to Indiana's economic foundation," says Sutherlin. "We're at the dawn of a revolution in agriculture technology and innovation with data-driven solutions to precision farming." 

This week, staff members will be in Indianapolis meet with interested and prospective students. If you or your child are interested in the program, you can attend one of the following informal sessions:

Wednesday, April 18, 2018, 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.              
Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library
250 N 5th St, Zionsville, IN 46077

Thursday, April 19, 2018, 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Ivy Tech, Noblesville Campus
300 N 17th St, Noblesville, IN 46060

You can also learn more about the program by attending an open house at the farm this Saturday, April 21st between noon and 4 o'clock.  You can also visit to learn more. Students grades 7 through 12 and under the age of 22 are welcome to enroll now. Classes start on July 30th. 


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