Although members of Madison FFA Chapter in Marshall, N.C., often taught agricultural education to students with disabilities at Madison High School, FFA copresident and high school senior Cameron Waldroup wanted to do more.
In his sophomore year, Waldroup worked with fellow FFA members to expand the lessons and to incorporate hands-on activities for diverse-learning students, or students with learning disabilities. The Ag for All curriculum quickly became a hit.
FFA members developed all the lessons. In the ag mechanics class, students learned about shop safety before building and painting a simple wooden box. FFA members monitored different workstations, guiding students through each stage in the process. Students planted flowers in the box (while learning about plant anatomy) in a horticulture class. A separate class highlighted FFA history and leadership, and incorporated information about the meaning of the FFA emblem and jacket.
“We ask for suggestions for things we can do, and teachers screen our lessons,” Waldroup says.
“The diverse-learning students like doing things that are hands-on, and they get very excited about coming down to the shop.”
Last year, 15 students participated in the program, led by five FFA members. One diverse-learning student was so appreciative of the opportunity to take part in hands-on agricultural education that she made thank-you cards for the FFA members who taught the classes.
Adam Byrd, the agriscience teacher and FFA advisor at Madison High School, has been impressed with the effort students have devoted to developing a curriculum and leading the classes. “The students have been very purposeful with the designs of the lessons,” he says. “The activities are age appropriate and appropriate for individual student needs.”
Lessons about agriculture might be the focus of the program, but the Ag for All program has also accomplished another important goal, according to FFA member Lacey Shelton.
“Our diverse learners are often overlooked by other clubs in our school,” she says. “Ag for All allows them to interact with their peers while learning about the agriculture industry. From an FFA perspective, opening up lessons to students our own age who have different needs and being able to help them, it really shows how we live our motto, Living to Serve.”