Learning about agriscience

July 12, 2023

Learning about agriscience

West Shore School News is a presentation of West Shore Educational Service District in partnership with Mason County Press and Oceana County Press. 

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Area middle school students got an in-depth look at the vital role agriscience plays in our local community by participating in a summer camp this week through the West Shore Educational Service District.

Agriscience Day Camp Teacher Erika Fatura pictured at right.

The CTE (Career Technical Education) Agriscience summer camp, “AgriScience Everywhere,” began Monday, July 10, and continues through Thursday, July 13, at the West Michigan Research Station on Oceana Drive in Weare Township.

The action-packed camp offers campers hands-on experiences, like a field trip to Lewis Adventure Farm & Zoo on Tuesday and a tour of Peterson Farms state-of-the-art fruit processing facilities on Wednesday.

Michigan State University Extension Tree Fruit Educator Dr. Emily Lavely talks to the students in the orchard.

The camp is led by Pentwater science teacher Erika Fatura, and local experts gave presentations highlighting the many agricultural career opportunities available in the area.

One of those experts — Michigan State University Extension Tree Fruit Educator Dr. Emily Lavely — shared her knowledge with the students Tuesday during a tour of the fruit orchards at Lewis farms. Following the tour, students then met with Lewis’ Head Zookeeper Savannah Bulger to learn about caretaking of animals.

Head Zookeeper Savannah Bulger shows students the exotic animals at Lewis Adventure Farm & Zoo near New Era.

Out of the 20 students enrolled in the camp, a total of 17 kids were able to participate in Tuesday’s field trip to Lewis Farms, said Fatura who has led the camp for four years. Fatura started teaching the agriscience camp in her classroom the first year, and it moved to the research center three years ago. 

“It’s been fun, because we’re in the heart of all this agriculture. We’re trying to expose kids to different opportunities that are right here in our backyard.”

Fatura has been instructing summer camps for the ESD for a long time, and has partnered with other industries in the past, such as culinary and criminal justice/forensic science. She has taught at Pentwater Public Schools 19 years of her 20-year career.

An important life lesson learned at camp is working with students from other schools, said Fatura. Since students are from several different school districts, they have to come out of their comfort zone and get to know new people. 

Ali Moore, who is entering fifth grade at New Era Christian School, said she plans to become a zoologist when she grows up. “I like learning about animals and learning how to grow fruits.”

The camp is free and open to area students who will be entering grades five through eight next school year.

West Shore ESD is an innovative, student-centered organization that provides leadership and support to local school districts in Lake, Mason and Oceana counties. It provides programs and services in general education; special education; and career and technical education (CTE). 

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