Central Campus has long been recognized for its educational programs. From marine biology to fashion design to its new Skilled Trades Academy and much more, it is a national model for career and technical education.
And despite being located in Iowa’s most urban community, the school also has one of the most vibrant agricultural education programs in the state. With its own “farm campus” on the south-side of Des Moines, Central Campus offers not only classes in animal science and horticulture – in addition to an active Future Farmers of America chapter – but also gives students hands-on experience in agri-business, from a major plant sale each spring to a new market that features many food items produced by students.
Tascha Brown, the director of Central Campus, is being honored for the effort that goes into this program. Earlier this week she was named this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Administrator Award presented by the Iowa Association of Agricultural Educators. The award annually honors a secondary/post-secondary administrator for support of their agricultural education instructional program, and engagement at the local, district, state, and national levels.
Kevin Anderson is the animal science and horticulture instructor at Central Campus who nominated Brown for the award. He noted: “While there are natural differences in opinions between teacher and principal, Tascha has been consistent with three things: she cares about teachers as people, she is a champion for Career and Technical Education, and she wants every student to receive a high quality education.”
He went on to provide a long list of the many ways in which she support agriculture education, some of which include:
- Supported the development of three new horticulture courses;
- Advocated for student to receive concurrent enrollment with DMACC for all agriculture classes;
- Provided funding to upgrade classroom equipment such as anatomical models, ultrasound machine, and consumables;
- Provided both agriculture instructors with full year contracts for curriculum development and FFA advising;
- Aided in establishing the Agriscience Advisory Board;
- Helped in completing the $2.7 million renovation to the agriculture facility and getting support for the equipment needed for the new market;
- Supported the growth and development of the DMPS FFA chapter.
“Over this past year year our AgriScience program has opened the state’s first high school-owned grocery store, increased greenhouse production and sales, added additional college credit to AgriScience coursework, and will be opening an orchard and shade garden with the support of the agriculture industry in Iowa,” added Brown. “We are actively working with our community leaders to onboard new partnerships with the goal of having more under-represented student populations accessing our program at DMPS, engaging in paid internships, and a having a secured path to the AgriScience industry before graduation.”