MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Mankato Area Public Schools will soon be expanding their agriculture education thanks to a local donation that provides multi-year funds for new positions.
Superintendent Paul Peterson said the money will accelerate the district’s work in developing the program.
“This is a really big deal, because it’s such a great alignment to the region which we live, you know the green seam here in Minnesota and across the upper Midwest,” Peterson said. “As an educational institution, we really believe that it’s really, really important that students have learning opportunities that link up to the environments in which they’re living in.”
Currently, Mankato Area Public Schools only has one agriculture teacher across the district.
Through the money, the district will be able to add three new positions, including a high school agriculture teacher, a career development specialist and a career pathway coordinator.
The donation comes from Mary Ann Christensen, the Chair of the Board of Christensen Farms in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota.
“Our people are our biggest assets, and if we can continue to help grow good people, then the industry has good people to grow industry,” Christensen said.
The money will be donated over five years starting with the 2021 school year. It’s something Peterson said will help with demand in the program.
“We’ve had an agriculture teacher here now for two years doing a tremendous job. His classes are overflowing, and really what that points to is student interest in this really important area of our region,” he said.
The new additions will also help students with career planning and development.
“We know that great learning happens between the four walls of a school classroom, but there’s a lot of learning that happens out in community, so whether it’s in business, in a laboratory, that’s what that coordinator position will do is to help us make those connections, even more of those connections within our community,” Peterson said.