OKAT Program Offers Valuable Agriculture Experience

January 30, 2014
OKAT program mug

Thanks to a partnership with the PVAMU College of Agriculture and Human Sciences, students from DeSoto Independent School District had the opportunity to participate in the recent Fort Worth Livestock Show and Rodeo.

CAHS and DeSoto ISD have joined forces to create the One Kid at a Time (OKAT) program. The initiative provides participants with a kid goat from the University and will track findings on goat husbandry and management while students plot future careers in sustainable agriculture.  Although the partnership is geared toward life sciences, 9,000 students and community members will benefit from the sustainable agriculture initiatives for enrollees in family & consumer sciences, agriculture and science classes.

“There are a lot of good things about this venture,” said CAHS Dean Alton B. Johnson.  “Encouragement, ‘touchy-feely’ lessons, goat and livestock entertainment, learning about 4-H clubs, and fostering positive futures are by-products of this initiative.”

According to Dr. David Harris, superintendent of DeSoto ISD, the program will spur interest in the field. “Agriculture in DeSoto had gone to sleep,” Harris said, but thanks to the use of Alpine goats to teach lessons, the partners are training a new generation of professionals.

While the students are receiving hands on experience in Agriculture, they are also learning much more.  “Life skills such as responsibility, leadership, commitment and a greater awareness and appreciation for agriculture are also learned,” said Dr. Alfred Parks, professor in the College of Agriculture and Human Sciences. Along with Parks, OKAT is administered by Dr. Joice Jeffries, program specialist, 4-H and Youth Development (lead investigator), Scott Horner, research specialist (co-principal investigator), Dr. Gbenga Ojumu, adjunct assistant professor (co-principal investigator), Dr. Kellye Thompson, program specialist, Dr. Rukeia Draw-Hood, program leader, 4-H and Youth Development and Dr. Gary Newton, research scientist.

The students participating in the program are slated to compete annually in the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. Additionally, the OKAT program is being replicated in other school districts.

OKAT program participants

Students from DeSoto ISD get acquainted with the Alpine goats used in the One Kid at a Time program. The initiative allows them to have a hands-on experience caring for the animals. Photo: Courtesy of the PVAMU College of Agriculture and Human Sciences