CTE programs allow students to gain hands-on experience

Published: Feb. 17, 2023 at 10:38 AM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - As South Dakota experiences a skilled labor shortage, career and technical education (CTE) programs can fill the gap in some of the state’s key industries, including natural resources.

Students at Rapid City’s Central High School are getting hands-on experience in managing an ecosystem by building terrariums in the school’s Natural Resource Lab.

The terrariums help students learn about ecology, ecosystems, and ecosystem succession. Students monitor soil moisture and temperature, and maintain the health of plants and animals within the terrariums.

“Instead of just studying that, they’re in charge of their own ecosystems. This allows them to learn through experience, through what actually happens in managing an ecosystem. Ultimately, the goal of this class is to help students identify if they want to go into a natural resources career where they would be managing organisms, plants, and ecosystems. So, this gives them a chance to try that on a very small scale,” said Lisa Steinken, the agricultural education teacher at Central High School.

It’s the hands-on experience students look for under CTE programs.

Senior Juremiah Murphy, who has taken the Natural Resources Lab for the past three years, says the projects he completes help him in ways he never imagined.

“I want to be a marine biologist. It’s always been what I wanted to do since I was a little kid. I’ve always wanted to work with animals, and I actually got accepted to the University of Maine because of projects I’ve done in this class. And this has helped me learn different aspects of the job that I’ll need if I ever want to become a field biologist,” added Murphy.

Rapid City area schools offer career and technical education programs in a variety of subjects including construction, health services, and computer science.