Learning About Agricultural Education

Learning About Agricultural Education

New program gives urban students, as well as fledgling teachers, a taste of agricultural education. Iowa ag teacher served as one of the initial mentors.

On Thursday, March 8, 2012 six undergraduate agricultural education majors were able to test their teaching skills on a group of 7th grade students at Stuart-Hobson Middle School in downtown Washington, D.C. The program, which pairs future and seasoned agriculture teachers to deliver science-based agriculture lessons is the first of its kind.

The program participants, who were from various parts of the United States, had gathered in Washington, D.C. to celebrate national Ag day, which was also on March 8. The teaching program was organized by the National Teach Ag Campaign, an initiative to increase the number of agricultural educators in the United States.

Learning About Agricultural Education

"We have a shortage of agriculture teachers right now," says Ellen Thompson, National Teach Ag Campaign Coordinator. "There aren't enough students who are graduating with a degree in agricultural education, and those who do graduate are leaving the profession too soon." 

Purpose of program is to help alleviate the shortage of ag education teachers

Thompson explains that the program works on a variety of levels. It gives urban students an opportunity to learn about the science behind agriculture, undergraduates an opportunity to get a feel for teaching, and experienced teachers a chance to share their wisdom.

"We need more students learning about agriculture," says Thompson. "To do that, we not only have to graduate more ag education majors, but we have to keep them in the profession. Giving them real-world experience and a mentor with whom they can continue a relationship after graduation is vital. It would be great if all undergraduate students could be part of something like this."

Matt Eddy, mentor teacher from Southeast Polk High School in Iowa was impressed by the experience. "Mr. Creef's students were exceptional -- they were receptive, engaged and excited to learn from our student teachers. I probably learned more from the student teachers and 7th graders than they learned from me," says Eddy.

Iowa ag teacher from Southeast Polk High School served as one of the mentors

The six undergraduates were Jenna Moser from Penn State University, Nina Miller from Virginia Tech University, Bethany Markway from Missouri State University, Jodi Boe from North Dakota State University, and  April and Josh Johnson, both from South Dakota State University. The three mentor teachers were Matt Eddy from South Polk High School in Pleasant Hill, Iowa; Aaron Geiman from North Carroll High School in Westminster, Maryland and Robin McLean from Northern Burlington County School District in Columbus, New Jersey. 

The event was a collaborative effort between the National Teach Ag Campaign, National Ag Day, Agriculture Future of America, and the National FFA Organization. 

The National Teach Ag Campaign is an initiative of the National Council for Agricultural Education led by the National Association of Agricultural Educators.  It is funded by the CHS Foundation and Landmark Nurseries as a special project of the National FFA Foundation. It's designed to raise an awareness of career opportunities in ag education, encourage others to consider a career as an agriculture teacher and celebrate the positive contributions that agriculture teachers make in their schools and communities. 

NAAE's Communities of Practice -- www.naae.org/communities – For more information, join the only online community for agricultural educators.

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