Crystal Ball Predictions for Agricultural Education

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THEME ARTICLE

What makes the future? Who will decide what the trends of the future will be? Will these trends become reality? If so, how will they become reality? The answer to these questions of course lies in all of us - teachers of agriculture, students, administrators, fellow educators, community members, researchers, business leaders, politicians, etc. No one teacher is an island that is able to make decisions and impact the future without the influence of many others. So instead of trying to figure out a plan to "get our own way," it is imperative now and for the future, that we find any way possible to work together toward a common goal. What is the goal? What will the future bring for Agricultural Education? What do we hope the future to be in Agricultural Education? Obviously no one has a crystal ball and we don't intend to say, "this is how it is going to be." But, we can share our perspective of the future based on current trends and ideas for improving the delivery of agricultural education.

One trend that has begun and will continue to advance is agricultural education beyond the traditional 9-12 Agriculture Program. This begins in the elementary school. Right now, some teachers of the early grades incorporate lessons on agriculture into their curriculum. This is typically the choice of the individual teacher, providing varying levels of quality and quantity to the students. Although improving the students' literacy in and about agriculture is valuable, it is not enough to only hit some of the students some of the time. In the future, we must work together with all of the stakeholders to provide our young people with a background in the importance of agriculture in their world. Accomplishing this task begins with today's teachers of agricultural education. On the local level, we must provide the expertise to elementary teachers and assist them in accessing available resources.

Increasing agricultural literacy must continue throughout middle school and high school. What lies in the future and beyond for students at this level? Increased integration with other core subjects and with industry. First, we cannot be an island, even within the school system. Integration is already occurring in many schools across the United States. There are many examples of courses where teachers of agriculture are teamed up with teachers in science, math, English, business, and others. The future needs to bring us more integration for all students, not just those electing to take those courses. More integration will provide all students at the secondary level with an understanding of and appreciation for the role agriculture plays in the economy and in their everyday lives. This may mean some teachers of agriculture will need to step out of their role as a classroom teacher and become a resource for other teachers. As we find increased pressure to come up with new ways to deliver education to today's youth, it will become time to do away with Carnegie units and provide students with a more holistic educational system.

Life long learning will take on greater importance in this new era. The need for knowledgeable farm management instructors will only increase as the options for marketing agricultural product changes. The new age farmer will need to become a student of change, willing to adapt to new opportunities, production practices, and global demands.

Financial institutions may place education standards into loan agreements guaranteeing that their clients remain abreast to the most recent marketing strategies. These standards will be met with the aid of qualified management instructors.

Integration will occur not only within the school system itself but also increasingly with industry as well. …