He says he welcomes community input on how Intro to Ag, Natural Resources and Wildlife Management classes should look.
Although he hasn’t been officially assigned to teach them, all signs point to Crookston High School Industrial Technologies teacher Travis Oliver teaching two new courses on the fall academic schedule at CHS: Introduction to Agriculture and Natural Resources and Wildlife Management.
Therefore, he’s already formulating how he’ll structure the courses and what he plans to have the students doing and learning, both in and out of the classroom.
Both courses are one semester in duration and will be available to sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Oliver described to the Times the framework that’s coming together for each class:
Intro to Agriculture
Oliver said he plans to discuss crops grown in and around Crookston and the Red River Valley and how they’re processed. He’d like to take his students on field trips to various types of local and area agribusinesses, and he said he’ll invite farmers into the classroom as well as representatives of farm cooperatives.
One thing Oliver says he won’t be able to do in the foreseeable future is launch an FFA chapter at CHS. While he says he’s well aware of the program’s positive impact on its student members, he thinks the out-of-the-classroom commitments required of an FFA advisor would take him away from his other teaching commitments too much.
“FFA advisors miss a significant amount of time in the classroom,” he said. “With me teaching Beginning Woods, Advanced Woods and Construction Trades, all the days I would miss for FFA would significantly impact those classes, with missed lab time, and, therefore, it would not benefit those students.”
It’s especially difficult to secure substitute teachers for such specialized classes that possess the skills necessary to actually teach in the instructor’s absence, Oliver added. “To get someone that would be able to actually work in the shop or on the house is virtually impossible,” he noted.
Natural Resources and Wildlife Management
Although he figures he won’t be able to take on all three at once, Oliver said he hopes to tie the Natural Resources and Wildlife Management course into Minnesota’s safety standards courses involving ATVs, snowmobiling and boating. “Those are important classes,” Oliver said.
He’s also envisioning the pond/wetland/meadow area north of the high school being utilized by students enrolled in the course. He’d like to construct a permanent dock/bog walk there and use it as an outdoor lab.
Trails in and around Crookston, like at Castle Park, Aunt Polly’s Slough and along the Red Lake River, could also be especially beneficial outdoor laboratories for students, Oliver said. He’d like to get his students in canoes on the river, too.
“Some of this may be a pipe dream, but I feel we have untapped resources in the area,” Oliver said, adding that if there’s enough student interest in the course it could expand to a year-long class.
Regarding both new classes, Oliver says at this point his ideas are part of “general outlines” he’s putting together. But, he adds, if anyone in the community has some input as far as how they think the courses could best take shape, he encourages them to reach out to him, at firstname.lastname@example.org.