The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
|Abby Meeks was one of 100 students chosen to attend|
Abby Meeks enjoys spending time with her youth leader’s horse, Gunsmoke. Meeks recently attended Virginia Tech’s Governor’s School for Agriculture.
Friday, August 30, 2013
By STACEY HAIRSTON - Staff Writer
Even though she is already three weeks into her junior year at Franklin County High School, Abby Meeks still looks back fondly on her time at Virginia Tech's Governor's School for Agriculture.
Meeks, 16, of Rocky Mount was chosen to attend the month-long program in July.
"I had never heard of this program before," said Meeks. "It sounded really interesting to me, so I filled out the application, wrote an essay and sent it in."
Meeks was required to get two letters of recommendation from teachers at the high school, write an essay on what field of agriculture she was interested in and complete an application process in order to be chosen as one of 100 rising juniors and seniors in the state to attend.
"I got recommendations from my teachers in biology and agriculture," said Meeks.
"Once we send in the applications to the Virginia Department of Education, they are reviewed by a committee that chooses the top applicants from across the state," said Jodie Robinson, gifted and talented coordinator for Franklin County schools.
A couple of months went by with no word from Virginia Tech, so Meeks said she assumed she had not been chosen.
"When I finally got the letter of acceptance in June, I was so excited," said Meeks. "It would be the longest period of time I have spent away from home."
Consideration for the program was given to Meeks for her academic records, test scores, extra-curricular activities, honors and awards, creativity, original essay and teacher recommendations.
Because of the limited number of residential placements available, not all students who are nominated by their schools can be accepted for participation.
Students chosen to attend the Governor's School for Agriculture were split into groups according to what "major" they chose. Majors consisted of food science, agricultural engineering, animal science, plant science, and agricultural economics.
Students in each major complete the same specialized courses designed to provide major-specific instruction and to prepare them to work on a major-specific project.
Leadership classes were integrated into each program.
Students were further divided into groups to work on research projects based around the National Institute of Food and Agriculture's main initiatives. The projects culminated in a symposium and poster session on the last day of the program.
"Giving up four weeks of your summer to participate in an intensive learning environment is a big commitment and takes much dedication on the part of the student," said Robinson.
"It wasn't all work though," said Meeks. "We also had a lot of fun. Besides learning about life on a college campus, playing volleyball, hiking, playing laser tag, swimming and making friends, I also learned a lot about the different fields of agriculture and animal science. I learned about different ways to grow crops and even performed dissections on the reproductive tracts of cows."
Meeks said she grew up around animals and always knew she wanted to become a veterinarian.
"Growing up, I had cats, dogs, hamsters, bunnies, chickens, gold fish and my grandmother had several horses," said Meeks. "I want to be a veterinarian, but I'm just not sure what type yet."
Established in 2001, the residential program for gifted students was developed to provide hands-on scientific and academic instruction to future leaders and scientists.
Meeks said the program has made concrete her decision to attend Virginia Tech upon graduating.
"I had been considering Virginia Tech, but now, I know for sure that is where I want to go," said Meeks.
Meeks said she has made life-long friends from her experience at Virginia Tech and still talks with a lot of them whenever possible.
Abby is the daughter of Kristina Meeks of Rocky Mount.