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HAGERMAN — Several Idaho school and government leaders toured a food science facility intended to prepare students for jobs after high school.

Hagerman High School unveiled its new food science and processing lab Wednesday at a ceremony attended by school, city and state officials.

The lab serves the school’s Academy of Agriculture and Food Science class, and teaches students how to grow, sell and market food products.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra said agriculture and food processing are large parts of Idaho’s economy.

“You’re helping put the Magic Valley in the center of the intersection between agriculture and technology in our state,” Ybarra told school administrators. “Preparing today’s students for the jobs that are waiting in the ag and tech economy are critical for Idaho’s future and our prosperity.”

Mike Mathews, the state director for U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, read a letter from Risch calling the program a role model for the state and the country.

“Efforts like these expose Idaho students to the possibilities that exist right here in the state and in turn, bolster our world economies,” Mathews read from Risch’s letter.

The course allows students to move straight into the workforce after graduation by providing certification in three types of food preparation: ServSafe, Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point. Next year, the program could offer dual credit opportunities through the College of Southern Idaho.

Other ag programs stop after selling the raw material, said teacher Kirt Martin.

This program instead partners with local farms and hunters to grow and gather fresh produce and game, and splits the final product with the donation source, he said.

It also teaches students how to market the product for sale, and students created a website with recipes and a YouTube channel called AGFSCI with tutorials, he said.

Martin said they are raising money in an attempt to expand the new facility.

The class is intended to help students find their ideal career path, said teacher Daniel Knapp.

“I watched too many smart talented young people flounder once they left high school, finding themselves in dead end, low paying jobs,” Knapp told the audience.

“Now more than ever it is imperative to adapt career and technical education to be more of a project based industry-focused learning experience.”

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