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Strom Thurmond Career and Technology Agricultural Program

web posted April 17, 2014

JOHNSTON Ė The Agriculture industry is the NUMBER ONE industry in South Carolina. The demand for future employees in this industry not only exists but is rapidly growing. To meet these demands, the Strom Thurmond Career and Technology Center Agricultural Education department has developed an educational program as unique and diverse as the agriculture industry.

The program trains students for careers in areas such as: golf course management, forestry, horticulture, agribusiness, wildlife management, and agriculture equipment maintenance to name a few. The agriculture program is currently home to 197 Strom Thurmond students with between 12 and 20 annual completers in four of the five available South Carolina Agricultural Education Pathways.
The curricula in the agriculture program develops studentsí skills in welding, irrigation, residential electricity, carpentry, turfgrass management, turf equipment operations, agricultural equipment maintenance, timber measurement, tree and plant identification, athletic field maintenance, ornamental plant identification, greenhouse operations, landscape design, landscape maintenance, and leadership.  In addition to the classroom training the agriculture program is the facilitator of the Strom Thurmond FFA, an integral, intra-curricular part of the agricultural education program.  Thurmond FFA operates at local, state and national levels and is known throughout all levels as a top notch program and fierce CDE competitor with four state championships in the last two years.

The primary focus of the agriculture program though is to prepare students for the next phase of their professional lives.  We understand that not all students will transition from high school into college so we develop curriculum to accommodate the entire range of students.  Currently in the United States 47% of agriculture jobs require a bachelorís degree and 24% require an associateís degree. 

So to better prepare our students for those jobs we work closely with several Universities and Technical Colleges throughout the state to develop relationships, articulations, and dual enrollment opportunities.  So what about those students who do not want to continue their formal education after high school?  Currently 29% of the agriculture jobs in the United States only require a high school diploma to get started.  Right here in Edgefield County we have several large agriculture industry leaders and we maintain a close relationship with them to make sure we are training our students for entry level positions within their companies.
Although the largest career growth in the agriculture industry is being seen in the Midwestern part of the country, South Carolina is still seeing a substantial amount of available agriculture jobs annually.  South Carolina is maintaining on average 200,000 agriculture jobs with nearly $7.5 billion in annual labor income.  The average annual salary for an entry level agriculture worker in South Carolina with just a high school diploma is $19,000.00 and jumps up to $60,000.00 for someone with a bachelorís degree.

For more information about the agriculture program here at the STCTC or any of the agricultural opportunities available at one the stateís colleges or technical schools please call or email Darla Steele (dssteele@edgefield.k12.sc.us) or Jeremy Brooks (jabrooks@edgefield.k12.sc.us) at (803) 275-1767.  You may also keep up with our program through our website at www.stromthurmondffa.com or follow us on Facebook.     

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