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High school students from Trumbull and nine other surrounding towns participate in the Regional Agriscience and Biotechnology program, supported by the Trumbull Board of Education and the State of Connecticut. Agriscience students are afforded the opportunity to work in state-of-the-art labs to study organic chemistry and biotechnology. Those students with an agricultural orientation learn about animal sciences for future careers in fields such as veterinary medicine, animal husbandry and equine science. Plant Science careers include landscape design, greenhouse management and high-tech professions, including hydroponics and tissue culture.
Recent News: The Center received a designation from the state of Connecticut as the #1 school for teaching plant science in the state. In 2014, we received this same designation for the teaching of animal science.
“The Trumbull Agriscience and Biotechnology Center is a high school option for those students interested in a STEM program with an agricultural focus. SAE (Supervised Agriscience Experience) work involvement in meaningful hands-on experiences assists in developing our students’ skills and knowledge for future career application. Enrollment in UConn ECE (Early College Experience) courses provides dual (high school and college) credit. Please consider joining our Ag family!”
Trumbull agriscience students foster second grade’s plants
That’s what Liz Doherty, science program director for Trumbull elementary schools, learned last year when the district purchased plants and pillbugs for a second grade unit on studying ecosystem diversity.
The materials she needed cost $75 per second grade classroom. With 25 classes to serve, the costs added up quickly. To top it off, the plants were so small and fragile when they arrived, Doherty said she couldn’t imagine the students even being able to work with them.
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Then she got an idea.
Doherty got in touch with Lauren Bespuda, a plant science teacher at Trumbull Agriscience & Biotechnology Center. The center educates high school-aged students on animal sciences, plant sciences and environmental biotechnology. She decided to give the plants to Bespuda and have the plant science students foster them in school’s greenhouse, so they would be bigger and easier to study.
“We’re trying to give students the best experience we can and save some money,” Doherty said.
Unfortunately, most of that first crop didn’t survive the year. But this year, Bespuda and Doherty tried again. The plants were sent directly to the agriscience school, where the students promptly re-potted them, in the hopes that it would help the plants grow.
After roughly a week, Bespuda said, they were given back to the elementary schools, which will return them at the end of the unit. Then, they will go into the greenhouse, where they will receive daily care and be allowed to grow so that next year’s students can use the same plants.
If the project is successful, Doherty said, it would save the district $63 per second grade class, for a total savings of roughly $1,575. The arrangement also benefits both the agriscience students and the elementary school students.
When the plants — which include succulents, ryegrass and others — are given a chance to grow “our students get the benefit of not looking at these tiny small plants. They’re look at big plants in bloom,” Doherty said.
Larger plants are easier to study, Bespuda said.
“If the plants have multiple years of growth, they will be able to view the parts and pieces better than with brand new plants,” she said.
As for the agriscience students, Bespuda said, taking care of the elementary school students’ plants gives them some hands on experience.
“They like being out in the greenhouse doing something with their hands,” she said. “It was also kind of a community service type activity, in addition to the typical greenhouse experience.”
All of the students involved in caring for the plants are high school seniors, and Bespuda said she’s trying to imbue them with a passion for this kind of work.
“My hope is that, later in life, even if they don’t go into the plant sciences, they will be able to care for something,” she said.
“Agriscience/Biotechnology offers interested students an unprecedented opportunity to enter fields of study which will be in demand in the immediate future and for years to come, as well as being exposed to scientific, technologic, and “hands on” activities that will become a solid foundation for their post-secondary education.”
Spring lambs brighten Trumbull agriscience program
TRUMBULL — Eight new purebred Shropshire lambs made program history this spring when they were born at Trumbull’s Agriscience and Biotechnology Center.
It’s the first year in which Shropshire ewes there were bred to a purebred Shropshire ram, according to animal sciences teacher Tom Piekarski.
Also a first: the program, which includes high school students from Trumbull and a number of area towns, is looking to take the lambs to shows around the state. It’s all part of the excitement spring has brought to the 17 juniors and seniors in the program majoring in animal science.
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“(The students’) biggest thrill of the year is when they are lambing,” said Piekarski, who has been at the center for 20 years.
The students have been tracking the lambs’ development using an Excel program, and many were present for the births. This year, there were 15 lambs born from eight ewes — seven sets of twins and one single — over the course of 11 days and weighing around 10 pounds each. The farm has 30 sheep in total.
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Junior Sam Yankocy, of Easton, stopped by after school one Wednesday in April to help “halter break” a lamb — helping it learn to walk on a line.
The mother of the lamb, known as 1602, was one of Yankocy’s favorites, she said, so when it was ready to give birth, she immediately drove over to assist bringing the lamb, now known as 1805, into the world.
“I love farm life and this is what I want to do when I’m older, so I thought, ‘what better place to start than the school farm?’” Yankocy said.
Since then, she has been working with the animals in preparation of upcoming shows. The students plan to start local, looking into shows around Connecticut.
The Trumbull Agriscience and Biotechnology Center is designed to give students like Yankocy specialized instruction in biotechnology and animal, plant and equine science. Many students go on to pursue those subjects in college, Piekarski said.
The center, which enrolls about 200 students, considers itself to be a working farm — where students combine classroom learning with hands-on experience. Students enrolled at the Center are considered Trumbull High School students, though students come from Trumbull, Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Milford, Monroe, Orange, Shelton and Stratford.
Students take care of the animals’ feeding, cleaning and other tasks related to their care, Piekarski said. For many, it’s a labor of love.
“They’re here on days off, holidays, weekends, they take care of the farm under my supervision,” he said.
Freshmen and sophomores take a variety of introductory classes to learn about animal science, plant science, biotechnology and agricultural mechanics. Juniors and seniors concentrate on their major and immerse themselves in all aspects of farm life.