Decatur school officials use $1.65M gift to open new academy
Dec. 24, 2017
DECATUR, Ill. (AP) — Public school officials in Decatur say a $1.65 million gift from a local foundation will help introduce students to careers in agriculture.
The gift from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation will be used to fund the Dwayne O. Andreas Ag Academy, the Herald and Review reported. It's named after the former chairman of Archer Daniels Midland Co., an agriculture business in Illinois. Andreas presided over the company's growth from the 1970s to the 1990s.
Teachers from MacArthur and Eisenhower high schools will head academic and field-based Future Farms of America curriculum.
"Upon my arrival here, one of the things that really caused me pause was why we don't have more ties to the agribusiness industry that Decatur's so proud of," said Superintendent Paul Fregeau, who started in July. "Everywhere I went, people were willing to help and step up with great opportunities for our kids."
Fregeau said the academy aims to create a career pathway for students to work in the agribusiness industry both locally and globally.
"We live in the agribusiness capital of the world," said Brian Byers, vice president of Neuhoff Media and a member of the Decatur Public Schools Foundation. "We have 9,000 students in District 61, and unfortunately, for years, we've not necessarily prepared them for that agribusiness world. That's about to change."
The academy is expected to begin classes in fall 2018. There'll also be a living science farm on 15 acres (6 hectares) owned by the district on the campus at Enterprise School and 12-month container gardens at both schools.
Information from: Herald & Review, http://www.herald-review.com