Wow, what a question to ponder! When asked if I would be willing to share my thoughts on this subject, I was honored, but asked, "Why me? I have been out of the classroom for almost 12 years now." John's response to me was, "Actually, you are just the person to write this article, because you have a perspective that few others have." That thought had not crossed my mind. I hope, as I share my thoughts, that I do not let him down.
As I previously stated, it has been 12 years this May since I was last in the classroom as a local agricultural education instructor and FFA advisor. For the past 12 years, I have been employed by the National FFA Organization performing a variety of responsibilities. Currently, I am the director for the Convention, Awards, Recognition and Events Management division. I had the wonderful privilege of teaching students for 18 years in the southwestern corner of Arizona. At my school, our program focused on Agriculture Business Management. And, even though the program was in the heart of production agriculture, the delivery model that I implemented gave me so much more to offer than just a single component of agriculture. As teachers, a critical key to our success can be whether we capitalize on all the resources we have available. What other integrated program in today's school system offers the ability to infuse academic, technical training and life skills all in the same formal setting, day in and day out?
From the very first day a student enters into an agricultural educa- tion classroom, they are presented with the chance to learn in so many different ways, through so many different avenues of delivery and content. The opportunities today far surpass those that I had avail- able to work with while I was in the classroom. If the right chance pre- sented itself for me to return to the classroom, I would do so in a heart beat. I would make sure to capital- ize on everything today that allows agricultural education to be the pre- mier educational delivery system. Agricultural education today is on the brink of approving course con- tent/curriculum standards that will be cross-walked to national aca- demic standards. Infusing academic skills into our programs is a prime example of how agricultural edu- cation is providing for - and proving that-it is the premier delivery system. A number of you would say this is not new to agricultural education; lots of us have been doing this for years. I would agree. The major difference is that today it is no longer an option. It is a necessity. With "No Child Left Behind," each and every program must be capitalizing on the integration of math, science and language arts into every lesson in every classroom.
Because graduation requirements have increased in many states, it is more important than ever that we validate that our programs are teaching academics. Integration is vital. Those programs that have mastered this integration have been able to achieve dizzying heights:
* Agriculture courses being accepted as lab science credit
* Agriculture courses fulfilling economic requirements for high school graduation
* Acceptance by post secondary institutes as entrance requirements for admission. …