By Arthur Mondale
Okeechobee County is known for farmers, ranchers and a nationally-recognized cattle industry, and this is trickling down to the classroom.
Three years ago Okeechobee County schools became the first school district in South Florida to offer an agriculture program at the elementary education level. The program combines responsibility and sustainability.
“If they’re going to be involved in agriculture, they need to know everything there is to know about agriculture,” said Leslie Lundy, director of grants and special programs for Okeechobee County Schools.
Every day, Everglades Elementary School students are scheduled to feed calves, collect chicken eggs and pick ripe vegetables. But there’s also rabbits to tend to, chicken coops to clean and plenty of raking and composting. It’s all part of Everglades’ Ag Program, a requirement for the school’s approximately 770 students.