Questar III BOCES celebrates Career and Technical Education Month®, an opportunity to showcase our students, while also recognizing the importance of our programs to the region and economy.

New York State is experiencing a skills gap. While 49% of New York jobs require skilled training – more education than high school, but less than a 4-year degree – only 37% of New Yorkers are trained at this level. Students enrolled in our CTE programs are learning the skills they need to help bridge this gap, while setting themselves up for successful careers in high-demand fields.

Be sure to follow us Facebook, Instagram, X, YouTube, and LinkedIn to hear more about our programs and stories like Adrianna and Chelsey’s below.

Questar III BOCES Agriculture Science students Adrianna Moon and Chelsey Carlson are juniors at Marilyn A. Noonan School at Durham from Catskill Central School District. Arianna has always worked with and loved animals and had an interest in learning how to grow her own food and farming. Chelsey was inspired by a friend who was heavily involved with Ag, plus has experience with animals and gardens at home.

The program, now in its second year, engages students in hands-on labs and activities to explore the world of animal and plant agriculture. Some projects they’ve worked on this year include building raised garden beds, horticulture, floriculture, caring for animals and more.

Students are exposed to animals in their classroom every day, including a hedgehog named Peter and guinea pigs, Dirt and Nutmeg. Dirt & Nutmeg welcomed two pups this fall, which students helped raise.

“It was a really cool experience to work with the pups,” said Chelsey. “They actually come out pretty big, it was surprising, and you’re always learning something new about them. We raised them for a little while before they found their new home.”

Students also welcomed some bigger animals into their classroom this year when their teacher, Ms. Monaco, brought in her goats. Students learned how to care for the animals, trim their hooves, administer dewormer and more.

“We’re still waiting for our barns to come in, but Ms. Monaco does everything she can to give us a positive experience”, said Adrianna. “I’m definitely looking forward to having more animals here once the barns are completed.”

Students in our construction program at Donald R. Kline Technical School are lending a helping hand by building the structures. It will also be a space to store their gardening supplies, which they will be busy using when planting this spring.

Another exciting opportunity for students was the launch of the Questar III FFA Chapter, Futures Farmers of America. This organization prepares students for leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education, providing hands-on educational experiences. The students have been heavily involved with launching the chapter.

“We learn a lot through FFA,” said Chelsey. “We visit a lot of places and are exposed to even more people teaching us about Agriculture. We also have a competition where I will be competing in the FFA Creed, sharing what Agriculture is about and what we believe in. It’s a great way to work on my communication skills too.”

Students host fundraisers throughout the year to raise money to attend these events. Adrianna shared that she’s learning some great skills through this too, like how to manage money, how to price their creations, and identifying what people are willing to pay for a product or service.

Students have participated in FFA trips to Camp Oswegatchie, leadership events in Queens and more. Outside of FFA, students have visited various local farms and have had several guest speakers in their classrooms, providing as much exposure as possible.

“I feel like I learn the most when we take trips,” shared Adrianna. “I’m able to remember what we did better and take it back with me.”

The Questar III Agriculture program is still growing, and both students are big promoters of the program.

“It’s cool to know that we’re part of the early stages of this program, and it’s going to evolve into something big,” said Chelsey. “We’re always talking to people and encouraging them to join. If there’s more of us in the classroom, it makes things so much easier.”

Both students are starting to look ahead to their future and using the program to help them narrow down their choices. Chelsey is using the program for discovery purposes and plans to become a teacher. Being in this program has made her consider becoming an Ag teacher. As for Adrianna, she’s still weighing her options.

“I’m considering becoming a livestock veterinarian or farrier, and if that doesn’t work out, then maybe I’ll get back into welding,” said Adrianna. “This program is definitely going to help guide me to what my future will look like.”

“It’s a totally different experience being here,” added Chelsey. “It’s your chance to get out, get hands-on, visit new places, and meet new people. I think everyone should join a CTE program, it’s an experience you don’t want to pass up.”

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