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Agriculture Teachers-Make it all possible!
By: Ellen Thompson, National Teach Ag Campaign

Hero, role model, mentor, confidant, advisor, teacher, rock star, friend-these are just a few of the titles given to agriculture teachers by their students. Agriculture teachers are a critical part of the agriculture talent pipeline equation. Unfortunately, right now there is a shortage of agriculture teachers due to new and expanding programs, retirements and agricultural education graduates taking positions in business and industry. This shortage is affecting nearly every state.

Five years ago the National Council for Agricultural Education, led by the National Association of Agricultural Educators as special project of the National FFA Foundation with sponsor support from the CHS Foundation, DuPont Pioneer and Growth Energy, launched the National Teach Ag Campaign. The Campaign’s mission is to raise awareness of the need to recruit and retain a quality supply of agriculture teachers, encourage others to consider a career teaching agriculture and celebrate the positive contributions that agriculture teachers make in their schools and communities.

It’s very likely that you are involved in agriculture today because of your agriculture teacher. Agriculture teachers make miracles happen every day for the more than 800,000 students they serve each year. Whether it is teaching young people the difference between leading and leadership, inspiring the next generation of problem solvers, critical thinkers and agriculturalists through rigorous, hands-on curriculum, supervised experiential based projects and leadership development through the FFA agriculture teachers show up and deliver. Agriculture teachers are often the community tree, plant, animal, mechanics, landscaping and parliamentary procedure expert.

As a professional in the agricultural industry you too can help ensure a quality supply of agriculture teachers:

  • Get involved in your local ag program by serving on the Advisory Board.
  • Volunteer
    • As a Guest Speaker,
    • Coach a Career Development team,
    • Interview students who are FFA Officer candidates, Proficiency finalists, Degrees recipients,
    • Review student scholarship applications,
    • Provide feedback/practice space/audience for students to practice their class speech, parliamentary procedure skills, presentation skills and more,
    • Host an On-site learning experience,
    • Provide students with employment and internship opportunities,
    • Allow/encourage students to job shadow your employees,
    • Offer technical job shadowing experiences for agriculture teachers.
  • Financial support
    • Scholarships for student teachers
    • Living assistance for student teachers
    • Scholarships for teachers to attend professional development experiences
    • Cover the registration fees for teachers to bring students to agriculture events. (commodity meetings, ag conferences)
    • Coordinate a fundraising event (Hog Roast, Appreciation dinner) for the ag program.
    • Provide transportation reimbursement for students to tour an agricultural education degree program
    • Create a community based endowment to support the agriculture program.
  • In-Kind Support
    • Meeting space
    • Printing
    • Supplies
    • Technology donation
    • Have an agriculture teacher be the keynote speaker at your conference
  • Promotion
    • Attend a school board meeting to show your support for the agriculture program.
    • Send congratulatory notes to the school administration about the success of the agriculture teacher and program.
    • Write a letters to the editor about the positive contributions of the agriculture program
    • Provide support for the agriculture teacher when advocating for student trips/professional development/classroom resources
    • Use social media to congratulate the agriculture teacher and share program success.
  • Ag Teachers help others understand our food supply, create a sustainable planet, make an impact in the community, inspire young minds, make a difference, reach the unreachable, ignite passion for agriculture and show students the world. What’s not to love? Teach Ag!

    Thursday, September 25 is National Teach Ag Day. Visit the Teach Ag website to find out more about this celebration and join the live web cast (starts at 12:45 pm ET).