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Springfield News-Sun...
School would train for Ag jobs
Widener touts major need in Ohio for skilled workers in industry.
By Megan Gildow-Anthony, Staff Writer

Thursday, January 26, 2012 

SPRINGFIELD — One in seven jobs in Ohio is in the high-need industry of agricultural bioscience, and Springfield officials plan to fill that need through a new regional STEM academy that could be located in South High School. 

State Sen. Chris Widener, R-Springfield, said Thursday that he wants to start a school called the Global Impact STEM Academy here. He is working with Springfield City School District Superintendent David Estrop. 

It would operate similar to the science, technology, engineering and math schools like the Dayton Regional STEM School but dedicated to agriculture bioscience. 

The idea came after seeing the demand for employees in the field and a void that could be filled through education and workforce development, said Widener. 

Nearly 500,000 people are unemployed in Ohio, which has almost 100,000 unfilled jobs. With one in seven of Ohio jobs in the fields of “food, fuel and fiber,” the agricultural bioscience field is looking to fill many jobs with good employees. 

Having that kind of education based in Springfield may even attract new businesses on top of existing food companies like Reiter Dairy, Woeber Mustard and Young’s Jersey Dairy. 

“That’s the ultimate endgame: Not only filling those jobs that are open, but creating new ones,” said Widener. 

He and Estrop have been meeting with legislators, parents, students and industry leaders to try to draw support for the creation of the academy, which would serve 51 school districts in Clark and surrounding counties. They also need to find a university to partner with, similar to the way the Dayton STEM school works with Wright State University, said Estrop. 

They hope to have partnerships finalized by March, spend the 2012-13 school year planning and open the doors in the fall of 2013. 

One of the potential sites for the school is South High School, according to Widener’s presentation, which was posted at gisaohio.blogspot.com. The 250,000 square foot building — valued at $10 million — closed as a school in 2008 and has since been vacated by administrators, too. 

Several sites are under consideration, Estrop said. 

When many people think of agriculture, they think of farming and see it as a field with few prospects, but only about 10 percent of jobs are in crops and livestock, said Widener. 

“There’s all these promising jobs out there that don’t involve the production, that don’t involve working on the farms, but they’re in the labs,” Estrop said. 

Read this and other articles at the Springfield News-Sun


 
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