RENSSELAER — A state charter school that features students from Rensselaer and surrounding communities will begin recruiting in the area soon.

The Indiana Agriculture & Technology School, which has an administrative office in Carmel, is open to students in grades 7-12.

A hybrid school, it provides a regular class load with English and math courses as well as real-life, hands-on experiences through its agriculture classes, according to IAT instructor Ron Wamsley.

Students will earn a diploma once they graduate from the school, providing degree programs in agriculture and technology.

“Students will not only work toward their Indiana Core 40 Diploma but also be introduced to opportunities for post-graduation,” IATS Chairman and Founder Allan Sutherlin said of the school’s mission. “The Indiana Agriculture and Technology School was created to expose our students to potential careers in agriculture and technology. We understand that most will not become farmers, but many will go on to seek careers in modern agriculture that include biology, life sciences, environmental management, food and nutrition, human health, and engineering.

“We recognize that many of our students will choose career education, and there is a huge demand for trained and skilled workers. That is why our school is designed to offer career pathways through partnerships with agribusiness and corporations, offering career opportunities after graduation.”

Wamsley, who taught ag courses and was an FFA advisor at Rensselaer Central for many years, said local students enrolled in the school this past year.

“We had 20 to 30 kids,” Wamsley said, adding that the school provides mostly online learning. “We had 165 show up for a trip to the dairy farm last year.”

IAT is located in Morgantown and Wamsley plans to take students to the IAT’s main campus one or twice a month with online learning most days.

It’s the third year for the charter school, which had six students graduate in its first year. Over 30 students will receive their diplomas during a ceremony on Aug. 15 this summer.

The total student population for the three campus sites was around 300. Wamsley said the school hopes to grow that number by another 200 students through its recruitment efforts this summer.

“Students can choose the central campus or me or go with the virtual option this year,” Wamsley said.