Lillian Weller and her classmates at the Global Impact STEM Academy experiment with different kinds of cooking oils in the food science lab as part of National Ag Day Thursday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

State department directors visit Springfield’s STEM Academy on Ag Day

Three state department directors visited the Global Impact STEM Academy on Thursday as a part of a National Agriculture Day celebration.

GISA Future Farmers of America Officers led other students in various experiments and activities to demonstrate the importance that ag plays in every day life.

Each of the 648 students enrolled at GISA is a member of FFA, which makes the school unique. The school is the first STEM school of its kind in the nation and focuses on career-readiness in the bioscience, healthcare and energy fields.

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“It’s the culture. It’s what makes us different,” said junior and GISA FFA Chaplain, Hailey Bush.

Ohio EPA Director Laurie Stevenson said she was impressed by the students’ passion for what they were learning.

“One of the things I was impressed by was their ability to look forward into the future and anticipating what some of our challenges are going to be,” she said.

Stevenson was joined by fellow state department heads, Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Dorothy Pelanda and Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Mary Mertz.

State Representative Kyle Koehler, R-Springfield, and Clark County Commissioner Melanie Flax Wilt.

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“Food safety, food waste — those are huge global issues and these kids right here in Clark County are learning how to address those using science everyday,” Flax Wilt said. “Other states, other communites around the country and the world are looking at this as a model for helping to create the agribusiness workforce of the future.”

Some of the activities that kids participated in included an indoor stream assessment, soil compaction experiment, donut sensory lab and more — many of those activities are based on labs that GISA’s teachers have developed for the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association, Ohio Soybean Council and GrowNextGen.

Junior and GISA FFA Vice President Isaiah Stickley has been an ‘ag kid’ since he was little, but he’s thankful for the experiences he’s gained through the STEM academy.

“I really wanted (the state directors) to see that FFA opens up a lot of doors for the members of our community,” he said. “Regardless of the field I go into, the lessons I’ve learned in agriculture have stuck with me and will continue to stick with me.”

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