New school, Indiana Agriculture & Technology, helps grow future farmers

Every summer for the past several years, 14-year-old Jack Heller has helped bale hay for a farmer who is a childhood friend of his father. That experience has led Jack to an interest in agriculture, though he hopes to pursue a more science or engineering-based career track working with farm machinery. "I don't know how to operate machinery, but I know a lot of the ins and outs of farming," the New Palestine eighth-grader said.

That's why he's hoping to be in the first class to graduate from the Indiana Agriculture & Technology School, a free public charter school. Jack recently enrolled in the school, which will serve students in grades 7 through 12. He attended an information session for prospective students Wednesday at the Ivy Tech Community College campus in Anderson. "Basically, I want to learn all the stuff I need to go to college. Mostly, it's nice to get hands-on experience you don't get in public school. That can get you ahead, you know," he said.

Thomas Sutherlin, director of enrollment for the school, said it was his father, Allan Sutherlin, who initially came up with the idea for the school because of his own youth on a Putnam County farm that led him to study agriculture at Purdue University. "He said, 'How can we generate interest? How can we grow this next generation of farmers?'" Sutherlin said. Sponsored by the Trafalgar-based Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson United School Corp., Sutherlin's dream will come true when the school goes live online on July 30.
Click here to read the full article provided by the Indiana Economic Digest