Looking Back to Move Forward: Supervised Experience Programs in the 21st Century

Article excerpt

Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) programs' have been the cornerstone of agricultural education programs since the program's inception in the late 19* century. With SAEs as an integral part of the curriculum, agricultural education programs have provided a quality experiential learning experience for thousands of youth.

At the turn of the 20th century large numbers of students were dropping out of high school (Boone, Doerfert, & Elliot, 1987). To counteract the trend, the SAE concept was developed to provide students a curriculum that was practical and exciting. The modern day SAE can trace its heritage to 1908 and the Smith's Agricultural School at Northampton, Massachusetts (Stimson, 1942). Ruñas Stimson developed the "homeproject" concept to keep his students' attentions focused on home problems and their solutions.

Supervised Agricultural Experience programs have evolved since the concept was developed by Stimson. The changes can be reflected in the names used for the concept including: supervised farming practice, farming practice, and supervised occupational experience programs (Boone, Doerfert, & Elliot, 1987). SAEs have also witnessed the transition from purely agriculture production enterprises to the inclusion of farm placement, agribusiness placement, career exploration and research concepts.

Agricultural education teachers must expand the use of the experiential learning component as a part of their program. In order to expand the use of experiential learning, teachers must explore alternative supervised agricultural experience programs. This includes but is not limited to exploratory, research, and improvement SAEs.

Just as the types of students who enroll in agricultural education have changed, the types of SAEs must also change. In the early years of agricultural education, most, if not all of the students would have a farm production background. Today it is the opposite. Many agricultural education students do not have a farm production background. It is the role of the teacher to find agriculture related opportunities that will get and maintain these students' attentions. …