In 2001, a Governor's School of Agriculture was formed to bring 85 students to Virginia Tech for a 28- day residential program involving Agricultural Economics, Animal Science, Veterinary Medicine, Natural Resources, and Plant and Soil Science. The students were accustomed to highly technical home and teaching environments; 94% had home computers and 88% had modems. Eighty to 88% had used spreadsheets, databases, and slide show software and all had used the Internet at school. Nineteen percent had used satellite positioning systems and 25% computer-aided drawing programs. About 20 students elected to study geographic analysis (GIS) software. Ninety-three percent of those students reported that using GIS software made the agriculture subjects more interesting and 47% said it increased their interest in studying agriculture. Eighty-one percent said they would use their new knowledge at home, and 65% said it would help them in school. Thirty-one percent said they planned to take similar courses in college. Teaching agricultural subjects with sophisticated software and equipment appears to be a successful way to introduce the subject to non-traditional students in an exciting and challenging manner. This model is offered for others to consider when addressing high school students with the aim of recruiting them into collegiate agricultural programs.
governor's school, computer geographics