Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding visited Penn Manor High School Wednesday morning to tour the school’s agricultural education classrooms and shops and announce the recipients of the 2021 Ag & Youth Program grants – one of which is Penn Manor.
Grants totaling $500,000 are being awarded to 57 projects in 33 counties across Pennsylvania for ag education and workforce development programs, seminars, agricultural safety training, capital projects, workshops, seminars and equipment purchases designed to build a strong workforce for agriculture, Pennsylvania’s leading industry.
Penn Manor’s agricultural education program, which enrolls about 400 students, received a $7,500 grant to provide training, curriculum materials and equipment to implement a cutting-edge plasma table into the welding curriculum.
The high school used an initial Ag & Youth Program grant in 2020, along with district matching funds, to purchase the Torchmate CNC Plasma Table so students can develop the advanced skills needed in welding industry jobs.
The plasma cutter will enable students to use a CAD program to design projects, create blueprints and program the plasma table to cut out intricate shapes and replacement parts for projects from metal. About 150 students enroll in welding classes each year. The equipment also may be used by students completing their supervised agricultural experiences as part of the ag education curriculum.
The new equipment, located in the ag shop of the newly built STEM wing of Penn Manor High School, is expected to be in use for the 2021-2022 school year.
“As the industry changes and grows, so must our high school trade programs to ensure our students are prepared for the workforce,” said Meagan Slates, Penn Manor agricultural education teacher. “We are very thankful to have been selected to grow our welding program with the addition of the Torchmate CNC plasma table and supporting materials.”
Joining Secretary Redding at Penn Manor High School were Pam Smith, executive deputy secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Education; state Rep. Brett Miller; and Angie Eichelberger, district director for state Sen. Scott Martin’s office.
“Kids are the future, and opportunities in agriculture are increasing every day,” Redding told the audience, assembled outside the school’s ag greenhouse.
“Our goal with this program is to show Pennsylvania youth that agriculture is more than cows and plows. It’s computer science and technology, food science and animal health – it’s in labs and on farms, in restaurants and health care facilities. More importantly, it’s on our plate every day, and we need a new generation to ensure that continues.”
Redding praised Penn Manor High School’s agricultural education program as one of the strongest in Pennsylvania. Following his address, Manor FFA members led Redding and other attendees on a tour of the school’s greenhouse, agriscience classrooms and agricultural mechanics lab.
In all, the secretary spent more than an hour with the students, learning about horticulture, veterinary science, welding, plumbing, small engine repair and other programs. After the tour, Redding said the high school ag facilities were “the perfect backdrop” for Wednesday’s announcement of the new grants.
Penn Manor would like to thank Secretary Redding and the other dignitaries who attended Wednesday’s event. And many thanks to our student tour guides for representing the program so well.
You can watch the news conference here.