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The Animal and Botanical Sciences Magnet Program

Students in the Animal and Botanical Sciences Magnet Program aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, in fact, it’s an expectation. Hands-on learning experiences are at the core of the program, immersing students in the topics they study.

Animal and Botanical Sciences is a four-year career and college exploration program operated in the greenhouse facilities at Freehold Township High School. Students are introduced to the fields of biological science, animal science, plant science, food science, biotechnology, floriculture, greenhouse management, and landscape design.

Real world application of the program’s curriculum can be seen through various partnerships, both within the district and with outside organizations. Within the district, students in the Animal and Botanical Sciences program cultivate greens and vegetables in the on-site greenhouse, sharing their bounty with sister school Freehold High School’s culinary program. In a partnership with Farmers Against Hunger, students recently explored food waste policy and technology solutions in the classroom. They applied their in-class knowledge by working in a local orchard, gleaning 1,800 pounds of apples for Monmouth and Ocean county food pantries.

In addition, Freehold Township’s FFA (Future Farmers of America) chapter has recently partnered with the Monmouth County’s Grown in Monmouth initiative, a program of the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, to create a county directory of equine businesses and related services. Students will assist by contacting equine business throughout Monmouth County to collect information to help establish the directory.

The Animal and Botanical Sciences program consists of courses designed to provide academic experiences and training that will prepare students for employment and post-secondary study. Coursework is supplemented with guest speakers, youth leadership conferences, and field trips to colleges, botanic gardens, and agricultural industries. An annual Holiday Plant and Floral Project provides students with real-world experiences in business and marketing. Additionally, an articulation agreement with Mercer County Community College allows students to earn college credit for courses completed while still in high school. The program consists of three integral parts: classroom instruction, the National Future Farmers of America Organization, and Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE). Participation in these local, state and national activities provides students with an opportunity to build leadership skills, serve the community, and explore post-secondary experiences.

Several students made it within the top ten of contestants in the Fall Career Development events at Rutgers University for Land Judging, Turf Management, and Dairy Foods. At a recent leadership conference, the students were tasked with identifying their personal passions and encouraged to network with those who have shared passions. One current student noted that the program is not just about animals and plants, it focuses a lot of personal growth. Some competitive events require public speaking, which as a freshman was something she was uncomfortable with. Now a senior, speaking in front of a classroom or even an auditorium filled with college professors is a simple task. While a student might enter the program with a specific future career already in mind, learning about previously unknown areas of agriculture and animal science can be eye-opening and spark a new career interest.

When discussing their time in the program, students are enthusiastic not just about the curriculum but about the dedicated staff who guide them each day. Faculty members in the Animal and Botanical Sciences program are there to help the students pursue their goals and offer their guidance continually. “They don’t do the work for you, but they show you how to get it done,” one student remarked. Chat with any of the senior students and they will tell you how appreciative they are regarding the bond that develops over four years with their fellow magnet program peers. Their shared experiences over time create a family atmosphere filled with support and encouragement.

The Animal and Botanical Science Magnet Program provides a unique opportunity for students with a love of nature and animals who might be considering careers in those areas.