If you saw chicken coops, a rabbit hutch, a pen in which sheep and lambs graze, and a cow, would you call it:
A. a farm
B. a lot of work
C. the agriscience program at Hialeah Gardens Middle School
D. all of the above
The correct answer is D, all of the above.
"We start off every day with showing up bright and early, we have to clean and make sure our animals have fresh water and fresh feed on a daily basis," explains Yvette Rodriguez, the teacher who leads the agriscience program.
The school calls its menagerie "Almosta Farm", meaning, it's almost a farm.
Judging by the way students obviously love working with the animals, agriscience is extremely popular, even though few, if any, of the kids will actually become farmers.
The program has other benefits besides teaching animal husbandry.
"They get so many skills that they can transfer into any career they choose, for example, learning how to work well with others, they depend on each other," said Rodriguez, "and they learn to delegate responsibility."
They also learn to harvest fresh eggs from the hens and geese. These are organic, free-range eggs that they sell to teachers at the school.
The students are active in the Future Farmers of America club and compete against other schools at events such as the Florida State Fair.
"It gives the students responsibility, they don't only come Monday through Friday, they are also here on the weekends," said Maritza Jimenez, the school's principal.
Jimenez also pointed out many other programs she says are brag-worthy at Hialeah Gardens Middle. For example, the school has a state champion dance team, a terrific jazz band, a robotics club, and a drama class that stages sophisticated plays.
"Middle school is the time kids need to be involved in a lot, it makes a well-rounded student," Jimenez said.
Her school has another unique offering they call the Nautical Club, which teaches students how to sail, snorkel, and kayak.
They clearly have a lot to crow about at Hialeah Gardens Middle School. The students in the agriscience classes can continue their passion when they get to Hialeah Gardens High School, which is right next door. You might say the middle school kids are the farm team for the high school.