STRATHMORE – Strathmore High School’s new agriculture science center is now in full swing since students have moved into the new learning space this month.
Strathmore High School held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Strathmore Technical Agricultural Research (STAR) Center on Jan. 26. The building features four classrooms, two full size labs and two smaller labs that are geared towards expanding the Emerging Agricultural Technology (EAT) pathway program for students. Strathmore High School’s principal Andrew Peterson said that this new addition will not only benefit existing students, but will also open up the program to any other students that would like to be a part of EAT.
“I think the kids are really excited and enthusiastic about having [the STAR center] available. We want kids to have great facilities, they deserve to have good facilities and have these opportunities,” Peterson said. “ I think there’s just a sense of pride and excitement.”
The STAR center is the newest building on Strathmore’s high school campus since the 1960’s, according to Peterson. The modernized equipment and amenities are able to benefit the EAT programs in their various avenues of agriculture science. The two smaller labs even have large flumes for science projects where they can bring in plant tissue and soil samples and do analysis on them, according to Peterson. A great feature about the STAR center is its close proximity to the school’s 13 acre farm, according to Peterson.
“[The STAR center] is very close to our crop box, our greenhouses, aquaponics, and then all the various areas where we’ve got row crops, citrus, stone fruit and an area for animals,” Peterson said. “It’s just greater accessibility to all those things, and then they can come back in, bring things into the lab, take samples and do some analysis.”
Peterson said that the EAT pathway is an initiative of Porterville Unified School District, so students from all over the district can take part in Strathmore High’s program. Many schools in the county have traditional agriculture programs like school farms or Future Farmers of America. However, Peterson said that their pathway program is set apart since it is career-oriented with an emphasis on plant soil science and technologies.
Since anyone in the district is allowed to partake in this pathways program, Peterson said that the district will provide students with transportation to Strathmore high, even from outlying areas like Terra Bella and Ducor.
“We were definitely eager to welcome more students to see what we got out here and the great learning opportunities available. There really isn’t an ag program that has all the cutting edge technology that we have,” Peterson said.
The STAR Center was funded by the Career Technical Education Facilities Grant from the California Department of Education. Pathway programs within Porterville’s district connect students with hands-on learning experiences. One of the goals of PUSD pathways is to provide learning opportunities for students that are within their specific interests.