On May 23, 2022, Smith Vocational-Agricultural High School in Northampton suffered a fire in the main shop for their Horticulture/Forestry program.  Building E received heavy smoke and water damage, and much of the equipment used by the program, including mowers, tractors, and leaf blowers, were destroyed.  The building was forced to close for the last month of the school year, displacing some 25-30 students in the horticulture program.

Stockbridge School of Agriculture has responded by making a cash donation of $1000 to the Horticulture/Forestry program at Smith Voc to help replace some of the equipment their students use daily. 

The donation is also intended to encourage the efforts of Smith Voc students, and to demonstrate the power of community ties in our region.

"The program at Smith Voc regularly feeds students with strong agricultural skills and interests into the application pool for Stockbridge School of Agriculture," said Nessim Watson, Director of Student Recruitment for Stockbridge.  "Just a week before the fire, several Smith Voc horticulture students spent a half day touring our campus, and felt real excitement for what UMass can offer them.  We want the students at Smith Voc to know that we see them, and we care about them."

The Horticulture/Forestry program at Smith Voc provides students with training in all areas of arboriculture, landscaping, and the horticulture industry.

In a letter of encouragement to the Smith Voc horticulture students, Stockbridge Director Baoshan Xing wrote,

"A life working in agriculture requires perseverance -- not giving up when the going gets tough. And perseverance builds the kind of character that makes people in our field succeed." 

Adding some advice for future applicants, Xing continued, "Your story, of taking damage and then building back better from it, is one that each of you should be sure to tell in your college applications when the time comes."

“Thank you for the kind words of encouragement,” said Smith-Voc Principal Joe Bianca,

“We have always had a wonderful working relationship with Stockbridge, and we look forward to that relationship continuing and growing in the coming years.”

Additional donations of cash or new equipment can be sent to Smith Voc directly through their website https://www.smithtec.org/ where they also have a list of needed items.

Personalized tours of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture can be reserved now at https://stockbridge.cns.umass.edu/visit  To arrange a group tour for your students, email Director of Student Recruitment Nessim Watson at njwatson@umass.edu