Academic journal article The Agricultural Education Magazine

Looking Back to Move Forward

Academic journal article The Agricultural Education Magazine

Looking Back to Move Forward

Article excerpt

The decade is the 1910s. The United States is entering the final stages of World War I. Big open-geared gas tractors were introduced in areas of extensive farming. By the end of the decade enclosed gears had been developed for the tractor. Farmers make up 31% of the labor force and 138 acres was the average size of a farm (United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 2005.).

Let's jump forward to the last decade of the twentieth century. Farmers make up 2.6% of the labor force. Information technology and precision planting has increased in the United States. Biotech crops are available commercially. Agricultural exports account for 9.5% of all United States exports. Farm families make up less than 10% of the rural population. In 2000 the United States Department of Agriculture unveils standards for organic products (United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 2005.).

In 1917 the Smith-Hughes Vocational Education Act was passed to encourage the expansion of agricultural education in high schools. One of the targets of the legislation was persons over fourteen years of age who have entered upon or who are preparing to enter upon the work of the farm or the farm home. The results were the expansion of vocational agriculture programs in the United States and the organization of the Future Farmers of America in 1928.

Based on the facts presented in the first two paragraphs, agricultural education programs should have joined the dinosaurs and dodo birds on the list of extinct species. As the readers are well aware, that has not happened. Agricultural education is alive and functioning in over 7,500 high schools (based on 7, 498 FFA Chapters) across the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands (National FFA Organization, n.d.).

Agricultural education has remained a vibrant organization by adapting to the changes in the agricultural industry. …

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