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Students teach students at PTECH food expo

A presentation on Nitrogen Fertlizers' Effect on the Food Industry was given during an HFM BOCES PTECH Food Expo Thursday at Jansen School in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — Students taught students about the food industry, and how it can be improved, during a two-hour Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Pathways in Technology Early College High School program event Thursday morning at Jansen Avenue School.

The PTECH school was the site of the first-ever “Innovations in Food” Expo conducted to two separate classes by the PTECH program students.

Students were able to research and document various issues surrounding the food industry and give multi-media presentations using various platforms to their fellow PTECH students.

“Each group chose a different subject, from spice trade, to the meat industry, to aquaculture,” noted PTECH Principal Matt Davis.

According to BOCES, Thursday’s Food Expo was mostly meant for sophomore high school students, although some older students were involved. Sophomores presented creative solutions to current problems in food and agriculture, and trends in history where people have had to innovate to achieve sustainable food production. The students provided insight on the food process over history.

Johnstown High School HFM BOCES PTECH student Alexa Savage gives a presentation durng a Food Expo Thursday at Jansen School in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

For example, in one of the displays, students broke down aquaculture — also known as aquafarming — or the farming of fish, crustaceans, molluscs, aquatic plants, algae, and other organisms.

Another presentation, “The Spice Trade,” traced the origins of spices in locations such as Persia, Somalia and India and their tasty trip back around the world. The PTECH student instructor informed those viewing the presentation how people in the Middle Ages lacked ways to preserve foodstuffs.

“Any food would spoil very quickly,” he noted.

One PTECH student traveling from exhibit to exhibit, Zoe Gansky, said she will rethink her trips to places like McDonald’s after what she learned Thursday.

“I don’t think I want to eat a lot of fast foods,” the student said.

Composting was the subject of this presentation at the HFM BOCES PTECH Food Expo Thursday at Jansen School in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

Student Jazzlynn Sowle said she assimilated much about the food industry during her involvement with the event.

“You definitely learn how food has changed over the years,” she said.

Exhibit instructor Alexa Savage told those viewing her “Innovations” exhibit that consumables need to be protected.

“Water is a scarce resource for some people,” Savage said.

BOCES communications specialist Betsy DeMars said the great thing about programs like Thursday’s “Innovations in Food Expo” was that students are able to do painstaking research and then pass on their knowledge “to their peers.”

HFM BOCES PTECH students at Jansen School in Johnstown view a presentation on spices at Thursday's "Innovations in Food Expo." (The Leader-Herad/Michael Anich)

Some of the informational displays took on straightforward subjects such as composting and fast food. Others delved deeper, such as the effect of nitrogen fertilizers on the food industry.

The PTECH program at Jansen School represents a newer model for high school education that includes college-level, credit-bearing coursework in the curriculum. PTECH is a six-year program that incorporates project based learning and professional skills training as students work toward their two-year degree from Fulton Montgomery Community College at no cost to their families. Only eighth-graders in participating HFM component school districts are eligible to apply to a PTECH program. Because the curriculum is structured to allow for acceleration into college courses, students must enter the program their freshman year of high school.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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