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Booker T. Washington High School Tours Lincoln University

Jenny Schaben | December 18th, 2023

Seventeen students from Booker T. Washington High School in Houston, Texas, accompanied by five chaperones, including Principal Dr. Carlos Phillips II, ROTC Instructor Commander Lamar Johnson, Magnet Coordinator Dr. Nghia Le, Engineering Instructor Brittany Lacy, and Agricultural Instructor Emily Hernandez, embarked on a transformative journey to Lincoln University of Missouri (LU) on November 7 and 8. This educational expedition offered students a unique opportunity to explore the College of Agriculture, Environmental and Human Sciences (CAEHS), providing a firsthand look at cutting-edge facilities and farms. 

Lacy explained Booker T. Washington High School’s dual emphasis, “While we are a magnet school for engineering, agriculture is a significant focus for us. We offer several classes in plant and animal science.” This combined focus on engineering and agriculture creates a dynamic learning environment, allowing students to engage with a diverse range of subjects that go beyond conventional academic boundaries. Amy Bax, special assistant to the CAEHS dean, played an essential role in coordinating the tour at Lincoln University. She clarified that the trip’s purpose was to explore agricultural opportunities in a different state and climate, while providing insight into the educational offerings at LU. 


Students immerse themselves in Lincoln University's sustainable hydroponic research, gaining insights into innovative and soil-free plant cultivation methods.


Students visited LU’s George Washington Carver Farm and participated in the Cooperative Extension Poultry Program, where they gained practical knowledge about poultry farming. Several pens contained chickens for educational purposes, giving students the chance to observe and interact with birds at various stages of development. Afterward, students learned about Lincoln University’s sustainable hydroponic research and toured the hydroponic systems. The group observed innovative and sustainable methods of growing plants without traditional soil through hydroponics, an approach to agriculture that relies on nutrient-rich water solutions. 


LU’s Poultry Program teaches students the proper way to care for and handle chickens.


The exploration continued at LU’s Alan T. Busby Farm, recognized as the largest organic farm in the Midwest. During a trolley tour, students gained insight into various agricultural practices, including crop fields, grazing areas, renewable energy installations, organic farming methods, and livestock management. Subsequently, they learned through LU’s Small Ruminant Program about the significant challenges posed by internal parasites that can adversely affect the health of sheep and goats. The discussion emphasized the importance of addressing these issues to ensure the well-being of animals.  


Immersed in experiential learning, students inspect the intricate world of animal health with LU’s Small Ruminant Program.  


A drone exhibition highlighted the impressive capabilities of contemporary drones and their diverse applications. Operating in flight while simultaneously capturing footage, drones can be used to identify plant life and relay its GPS coordinates. The discussion emphasized drones’ effectiveness in wildlife management, environmental monitoring, and agricultural practices. This presentation not only enriched the students' comprehension of drone technology but also ignited curiosity about its multifaceted uses, inspiring them to contemplate potential roles in the field of agriculture. 

On their second day at Lincoln University, Booker T. Washington scholars toured LU’s Dickinson Research Center, which includes a classroom, a student laboratory, ten research laboratories, and five greenhouses for research and teaching plant science classes. Students engaged in a hands-on examination of soil samples using a series of tests focused on nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium levels. Students also toured LU’s Finca Ecofarm, which houses the Specialty Crops—Native Plants Program. Students learned about the economic potential of certain plants and the importance of pollinators. The discussion showed insight into the significance of certain plants, such as those crucial to the survival of the monarch butterfly and to the future of food. 


Students perform soil tests to understand the soil's health and suitability for crops.


At LU’s Commercial Kitchen, students baked homemade uncrustables with Greek yogurt flatbread and wild plum jam, as a part of a lesson about nutrition and the culinary arts. Afterward, students visited the aquaculture facility, gaining insight into alternative methods of fish production and the environmental impact of traditional practices. The tour offered a firsthand look at the facility's operations, showcasing different tanks and processes involved in raising various aquatic species. The journey commenced with a fishing competition at the farm with prizes for the winners.


Booker T. Washington High School student poses with her finished baked homemade uncrustable with wild plum jam.


Maria Velázquez, Booker T. Washington High School senior, remarked, “The visit here has been enjoyable, and I can say the same thing for all my friends, as well. Experiencing what it is like at college and seeing this environment especially has been fun. We are all learning while having a great time.” Her peers shared her enthusiasm and learned about the many opportunities for prospective students, including the 1890 David Scott Full Ride Scholarship. This scholarship serves as a compelling incentive for students to enroll and encourages them to pursue degrees in food and agricultural sciences.


Maria Velázquez, Booker T. Washington High School senior, catches a fish at Washington Carver Farm.


The journey to Lincoln University proved to be a valuable educational expedition in enriching the students’ understanding of agriculture, technology, and the potential avenues for their future college and occupational careers. As the Booker T. Washington students returned to Houston, they carried with them memories of engaging experiences and a deeper appreciation for the interconnectedness of agriculture, technology, and sustainable practices. The collaboration between Booker T. Washington High School and Lincoln University fostered educational growth and laid the foundation for future endeavors, emphasizing the importance of such immersive experiences in shaping the leaders of tomorrow.

For more information on educational and scholarship opportunities at Lincoln University’s Department of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, please email or call 573-681-5380.

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