The Key to Agricultural Education Success: Recruiting and Retaining Quality Agricultural Teachers

Article excerpt

WINNER 2007 National ATA Essay Contest

"The key to our success in agricultural education is to have an adequate supply of well prepared people motivated to help prepare students for successful careers in Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources industries," according to Dr. Larry case, Coordinator of Agricultural and Rural Education in the United States Department of Education ( case, personal communication, Sept. 20, 2007.)

This need for agricultural educators is demonstrated by the National Council for Agricultural Education (The Council) in the fifth initiative of the "10 ? 15" long-range goal to establish 10,000 quality agricultural education programs by the year 2015. This initiative, "Agricultural Educator Recruiting Strategy", recognizes that the shortage of agricultural educators has been "measured, researched, analyzed and discussed for decades" (The Council 2007). Ed Osborne (2007), a member of the 10 ? 15 management team, states that there will need to be an additional 4,278 agricultural teachers to reach the 10 ? 15 goal. From this information we see that there is a need for agricultural education teachers across the nation; to fulfill the need we need to properly recruit and retain teachers.

The Agricultural Teachers Creed states, "I am an agricultural educator by choice, not chance" ( www.naae.org/ about/creed). As agriculture teachers, our challenge is how we can get students to choose agricultural education as a profession. Larry Gossen (Gossen, personal communication, Sept. 19, 2007), Local Program Success specialist with the National FFA Organization, believes that, "the key to recruiting teachers is the local teacher." Agriculture teachers have the most important role in the recruitment of future teachers. The reason I am going into the profession is my own agriculture teacher, Eric Boettcher. He truly enjoys teaching agriculture and that passion transferred through to me as a student and I became excited about agriculture. Mr. Boettcher pushed me to grow as an individual and supported my decision to become an agriculture teacher. Simply telling a student that they would make a great agriculture educator is one of the strongest recruiting tools an agriculture teacher has ("Identifying Potential Teachers" 2007).

An example of this is Roger King. Roger King became an agricultural educator because he was inspired by his own high school instructor. After twenty-three years of teaching in the Holmen School District (Holmen, Wisconsin), King still has a passion for what he does. In fact, he has been named a National Milken Educator and was one of nine American agricultural teachers that helped develop curriculum for Russian and Ukrainian schools through the National FFA Organization (www.holmen.k12.wi.us). King's enthusiasm for agricultural education has stayed strong because of great students, a supportive school district, and the connections and camaraderie provided by professional organizations (King, personal communication, Sept. 20, 2007).

To keep educators like King, we need to prevent the attrition of agriculture teachers. …

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