ASHDOWN — Some students in the Ashdown School District were already helping Coach Chuck Cross with the care and maintenance of athletic fields when he realized they could learn even more.
So, he turned the experience into a full-fledged class.
The students in his turf management class learn basic agronomy, lawn care and small-equipment maintenance skills.
“We want to give the kids a great experience at Ashdown and allow them to have a wide variety of opportunities in the job force,” Cross said.
The current job availability in agronomy, along with the current growth in the turf management industry, makes this class an intriguing option for some students, said Ronda Pounds, the district’s public relations director.
Agronomy is the science and technology of producing and using plants in agriculture for food, fuel, fiber, recreation and land restoration.
“It is going great,” Pounds said. “Students have had the opportunity to visit a golf course in Little Rock and receive information from professionals. The students love it, and we have some professional looking fields.”
These students have the potential to seek jobs in a myriad number of fields such as: golf course management, irrigation specialist, landscape designer/contractor, residential lawn care service, park/commercial grounds manager, athletic field manager, seed/nutrient supplier, turf equipment manufacturer/sales, business owner/manager, sales representative or sod grower. Jobs are even available as a plant/seed breeder, weed scientist or extension agent.
“Coach Cross and the students work so hard to provide our athletes top-notch fields for football, softball, and baseball,” Superintendent Casey Nichols said. “They are learning skills that will make them employable during and beyond high school. We want to provide every student an opportunity to excel in the classroom or outside the normal class setting.”
The students’ biggest classroom project is maintaining the Dick Hays Football Stadium on the Ashdown High School campus. The students are also responsible for the softball and baseball fields during that season.
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