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Pigs bring fans and followers to Cumberland Valley High School program

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In the busy hallways of Cumberland Valley high school, it's a show stopper. A sow named Peaches and her 13 piglets, visible to passing students.

"For students to walk past the greenhouse window and see a pig in their school was something that was really rewarding for me as a teacher," said Agriculture Teacher Michael Woods. "To be able to expose them to the many facets of agriculture is great"

The pigs are the darlings of the student body. But they are also a class project for the agricultural sciences students. And the kids involved come from all kinds of backgrounds.

"Contrary to popular belief," said Woods, "a lot of my students do not have any sort of agricultural or farming background."

"They have no application or real world sense of what agriculture encompasses," he added. " Some of them think it's just farming. But it's so much more than cows, sows and plows."

In his third year at Cumberland Valley, Woods has broadened the program's curriculum to better prepare all of his students for the next chapter in their lives.

"More often than not," said Woods, "if the employer is familiar with what FFA teaches, which is premier leadership, personal growth and career success, they know that students are career ready and they are going to apply themselves fully and be the best employee possible."

Woods knows from where he speaks. Less than a decade ago, he was part of CV's Ag-sciences and FFA classes. His idea of pigs as good will ambassadors for the program seems to be working too.. Enrollment has skyrocketed from 37 students just three years ago to more than 250 signed up for next year. Those in the program understand why.

"Once you're in here, you bond," said junior Ali Emig. " You get a family. That sounds cliche, but you really do. And I wouldn't trade anything in here for the world."

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