State Council Unveils Proposals to Boost Ag Education

Recommendations seek to revitalize agricultural education in Iowa schools.

Introducing agricultural courses in Iowa middle schools, adding ag courses to high schools that don't have them and allowing agriscience classes to meet high school science requirements are some of the activities suggested by the Iowa Governor's Council on Agricultural Education. The council’s goal is to revitalize ag education in the state.

The council has proposed 10 action steps to be taken. These steps come from recommendations developed at the Summit on School-Based Agricultural Education in Iowa that was held in March 2007. The summit drew more than 100 participants representing ag business, industry, education, private and public organizations and interest groups.

Enrollment in ag education is down

A shortage of ag educators plagues the state, says Robert Martin, chair of the Governor's Council on Agricultural Education and chair of the ag education and studies department at Iowa State University. "Enrollment in teacher education programs in agriculture is at an all-time low, but the demand for well-educated agriculturalists is at an all-time high," he says. "The retirement of baby boomers is beginning to increase the need for teachers in agriculture and other related areas, such as science, math and consumer sciences."

Programs to recruit and retain agricultural education teachers are among the action steps recommended by the council. A prospective teacher education visitation program for students is proposed to identify potential educators as well as an internship program for college students to shadow an ag educator.

Other proposals include increasing elementary students' awareness of ag careers, and biology teachers awareness of applied ag sciences in the bio-economy and career possibilities. Also proposed is a campaign to make the study of agricultural science an applied science earning it a place among other science subjects.

"These action steps and activities are only concepts," says Martin. "The details will have to be developed once they have received initial endorsement by the Governor's Council on Agricultural Education. Funding sources may vary according to opportunities in agribusiness and industry, government services, private foundations and interested stakeholders."

A summary of council recommendations is available by contacting Martin at (515) 294-5872 or get it online at www.ageds.iastate.edu/ExecutiveSummary.pdf.

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