NEW CASTLE, Va. – Gov. Ralph Northam made his final trip to Southwest Virginia on Thursday to thank Craig County teachers and welcome the start of a new agriculture project.
A new high school teacher created a land lab to get students out of the classroom and into the fields.
Building barns and installing fences, dozens of students will get dirty to create an acre and a half land lab. Students will also raise livestock and produce a garden center to learn about agriculture hands-on.
The project is spearheaded by agriculture teacher Emily Nolen, who grew up on a beef cattle farm and ended up forming her own herd at 16 years old.
“Having students realize how important it is and how many careers connect to agriculture, it’s something they really need to understand before they decide what place in their career field is,” Nolen said.
Northam was impressed with Nolen’s vision for the community.
“I’m from rural Virginia and I just love coming out to this area,” he said. “Just hard work and very gracious people and just good to be here to say thank you to everybody.”
“Meeting the governor and having him thank me for my work is something I will never forget,” Nolen said.
A plaque with students’ names will be added once the land lab is complete.
Nolen said the plan is to expand across the street and add more livestock in the future.
“They can look back in 10 years when they have kids at the school and be like, ‘I built that land lab that you are on today,’” she said. “So this is really a historical moment for the Ag program and Craig County itself.”