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Students in the agribusiness and production program at the Wayne County Schools Career Center are already implementing skills learned in their trade class at both school and work.

Agribusiness and production is a program that can be tailored to an individual student’s interests and career path in the agricultural/business field. Just ask junior student Morgan Shepherd of Orrville.

Shepherd is participating in a leasing program that began in November 2021. Along with classmates Josh Carmichael of Smithville and Wyatt Waldron of Orrville, they lease two heifers from a local beef producer for a monthly fee. The fee covers hay, grain and bedding for the animals, which is provided by the owner. The students care for the animals before and during school and on weekends and have an opportunity to receive calves in 2023 after successfully artificially inseminating the heifers themselves.

“It’s a whole new experience I couldn’t afford on my own,” Shepherd said. “I don’t have a place to keep a cow at home, either. It works perfectly for me.”

Shepherd and her classmates earned their artificial insemination certification earlier this school year after training with ABS Global. Through the leasing agreement, the students may keep the calves or sell them and keep all profits.

Shepherd is still deciding what her future will hold, but it will likely not include breeding cows.

“I got my certification but discovered it wasn’t for me,” Shepherd said. “I got to figure that out at the career center before I paid to learn that in college. I found out I love the business side of things. I do stuff that I like on a daily basis, like taking college classes with my trade, and we did a business plan.”

Another agribusiness and production student, Gavin Snyder of Norwayne has put his AI certification to good use at his job as a laborer on his family’s farm, Circle J Dairy in Wooster. He recently bred four cows there to keep in practice.

“We’ll know in about 30 days whether it worked or not,” Snyder said.

When asked about his future plans, Snyder said, “I’ll definitely continue working on the farm. I’m not sure what my role will be, but I want to keep practicing AI, just in case. The farm wouldn’t run without everybody doing their part.”

Snyder is looking forward to his senior year at the career center and taking his dairy cattle to the fair as part of his trade program.

The agribusiness program plans to have breeding ewes, heifers, steer, market goats, market pigs and market lambs through the summer in preparation for the 2022 Wayne County Fair.

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