New horticulture teacher looks forward to hands-on learning with students
Agriculture was once a way of life for many families. With the Farm to School movement growing in Florence 1 Schools, students are once again learning about where their food comes from. Robbie Myers, in his role as Horticulture Teacher at the Florence Career Center, said he is looking forward to sharing his passion for agriculture with students.
“My dad was an agriculture teacher and so was his brother,” Myers said. “I was raised on a small farm, we had blueberries and grapes and, at one time, strawberries and peaches. Agriculture is pretty much my whole life.”
Myers attended Clemson University where he majored in agricultural education.
“My original plan was to go in as an agriculture major, get my grades up and transfer to something else but once I got up there I liked it and I stayed with it,” Myers said. “I did not ever plan to teach, I was dead set on that, and I actually didn’t start doing it until I was 37. I worked for South Carolina Farm Bureau for 12 years. In that capacity, I worked with farmers across the state to coordinate the Ag in the Classroom program, trying to show students that their food comes from the farm and not BI-LO or Food Lion.”
In his new position, Myers will be teaching Horticulture 1 and 2.
“Basically that will be learning about growing ornamental plants, for aesthetics or looks, but also growing some vegetables and talking about fruit trees,” Myers said. “It will be more than just talking about growing crops. We do have greenhouses at the Career Center and we’ll be growing plants in those and then selling them in the spring.”
Part of agricultural education can include participation in Future Farmers of America (FFA), an agriculture club.
“You can take any agriculture class that is offered and not be a member of FFA,” Myers said. “However, there are a lot of benefits to being a member. It provides a lot of good leadership skills for students. They have to learn parliamentary procedure for meetings, they have contests and compete with schools in their region and across the state. Clemson Ag Ed has close to a hundred acres down at Cherry Beach so kids can go to camp during the summer.
Having grown up on a farm, working the small family blueberry and grape farm himself as an adult, Myers said that he enjoys the different teaching style required in his position and is excited to show students a whole new side of nutrition.
“It is a lot of hands-on teaching in this subject area and that’s what I like to do,” Myers said. “Most of the kids that I’m teaching don’t come from a farm background, even a rural background, so I like being able to show them where the food comes from, how it is grown and all the work it takes. As a society, we take that for granted but it does take a lot of work to put food on the table.”
Jeff Murrie, Florence 1 Schools Farm to School Coordinator, said that he was thrilled to have someone with Myers’ experience teaching at the Career Center.
“I am very excited to have Robbie as part of the Farm to School mission in Florence One,” Murrie said. “Around 50 percent of our schools currently have a school-based garden and each year that number increases through a grant process supported by the local Eat Smart Move More chapter and the City of Florence. Our students are becoming more aware of where their food comes from and the importance of practicing a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. A strong agricultural program will impact our students at home and give them new career opportunities. We hope to see Florence One students attending the new Governor's School of Agriculture located in McCormick, SC.”