Largest agricultural high school in the U.S. cultivates future farmers
Farmers are in high demand — learn how W. B. Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences in Philadelphia is helping to fill the need.
Sunday, October 16, 2011 - 19:35
With the demand for locally-grown produce on the rise across the country, there's certainly an increase in the demand for farmers to grow crops and raise livestock. The question is, where are all of those new farmers going to come from?
Believe it or not, many may come from Philadelphia.
Philadelphia, more known for its sports teams and cheesesteaks, is actually home to the largest agricultural high school in the United States. W. B. Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences spans 150 acres within city limits and is on a mission to prepare its students to be ready to work in agriculture upon graduation.
"The mission of W. B. Saul High School is to develop in students an understanding of and appreciation for the career opportunities that are available to them in the many fields of agriculture," according to the school's website. "It is also our commitment to cultivate each student's individual to prepare him or her for a lifetime of productive academic and civic endeavors."
The school boasts a working farm that includes chickens, cows, pigs, sheep and horses. It also has the typical high school features, such as athletic fields, in addition to its arboretum, nursery, cropland and pasture.
Saul also recently partnered with a local food cooperative, Weaver's Way Co-Op, to start Henry Got Crops!, an urban CSA. One of the nation's first high-school based CSAs, Saul students can learn from Weaver's Way staffers about vegetable growing and marketing while providing food to the community.
Saul is a magnet school, which means that students interested in attending need to apply and be accepted. Like many magnet schools in the city, Saul's graduation rate is high at 95 percent. According to Saul's website, about 80 percent of its graduates also attend post-secondary schools.
Naturally, Saul has the largest single-school Future Farmers of America chapter in the world.