Aims Ag Club, agriculture program bring opportunities for students in wide variety of careers
October 10, 2016
Agriculture classes offered at Aims
Farm and ranch management
Soil fertility and fertilizers
Applied info tech in ag
Precision ag operations
World food interdependence
Intro to soil science
Basic ag mechanic skills
General power mechanics
Fundamentals of welding
Feeds and feeding
Farm animal anatomy and physiology
Live animal and carcass evaluation
Intro to horticulture
When 19-year-old Tiana Smith graduated high school last year, she knew her future was in agriculture. She'd spent her whole life on the family farm in Lafayette, Colo., surrounded by rabbits, cows, corn and alfalfa, and continuing to help on the farm was as important to her as continuing her education.
So she chose a path different than many of her peers, who opted for Colorado State University, the No. 1 ag school in the state. She picked a path that brought her future and her past together — Aims Community College in Fort Lupton.
The school's ag program was new — it started in 2012 — but it offered the lifelong 4-Her and FFA student a chance CSU's didn't. While taking classes at Aims, she could still work and live on the farm.
When she started attending the college last year, she saw the quality of the program and its corresponding extracurricular group, the Aims Ag Club, and knew she'd made the right choice.
Now, as the president of the Aims Ag Club, Smith helps get Aims' name into ag communities as a viable option for agricultural education.
The Aims Agriculture program offers everything from traditional studies, like Smith's focus of soil and crop science, to programs on the cutting-edge of the industry, like precision agriculture.
There are about 15-20 students in the Aims Ag Club, said Amy McFarland, agriculture instructor at Aims and adviser for the ag club. That's about a third of the ag program at Aims, which has grown from five students its first year to more than 60 now.
"The good thing about the agriculture program and ag club specifically is they're here because they want to be here," McFarland said. "They have awesome ideas and want to do a lot within the industry."
After completing the program at Aims, many transfer on to four-year colleges, like CSU, or go directly into their fields, often with the help of internship programs at Aims.
The Aims Ag Club also offers professional development opportunities for students, like tours of various plants and farms. This year, McFarland said the club hopes to tour diverse operations, like the JBS lamb plant, a new pullet farm outside Hudson and even a hemp farm.
These opportunities are mixed in with community service and outreach events.
Smith said getting out into Fort Lupton and surrounding areas is the most important part of ag club, since seeing students in the community bring awareness of agriculture and ag education. To her, volunteering is the best way to tell the Aims story.
Growing up on a farm instilled a passion for helping and hard work in Smith, something she said most of the other students in the club share. This year, she hopes to secure opportunities for the club to volunteer at auctions and livestock judgings.
"It's important because to be an active citizen in society, you have to think about one another and how you can help others," she said.
Last year, the Aims Ag Club did the most community service of any student organization at Aims, McFarland said. Though the club only had their first meeting in September, it's already began volunteering. On Sept. 23, several members went to Ag Day at the Adams County Fairgrounds, where they gave worm and soil demonstrations to area children.
"It's nice to have a group that's so passionate about agriculture and passionate about extending that to younger generations," McFarland said.
These volunteer trips serve a two-fold purpose, she said. They get the word out about Aims, but they also show the younger generation how many careers there are in agriculture. It's not just veterinarians, farmers and ranchers, she said. There are students in the program at Aims studying to become agronomists, precision ag specialists and pilots, all under the umbrella of agriculture.
"The careers are really endless," McFarland said. ❖