Academic journal article The Agricultural Education Magazine

Bridge Builders Needed!

Academic journal article The Agricultural Education Magazine

Bridge Builders Needed!

Article excerpt

I spent the first 14 years of my life on a small family wheat and cattle operation. During elementary school, I dreamed of one day being old enough to be an Ag Boy and wear one of those cool FFA jackets. Well, to make a long story short, my country-boy dream was derailed by a family crisis and I eventually found myself enrolled as a junior high student in a large urban school district in the Tulsa, Oklahoma metropolitan area. I thought my dreams of being engaged in agriculture were gone until I discovered my high school had an agricultural education department. Although I was actively involved in the program and had an excellent experience, I could not help but notice my urban program was not that different from rural Oklahoma agricultural education departments. In fact, this bothered me because I understood my new city friends and knew they had different interests than the students I grew up with in rural Oklahoma. Bottom line: The program had modest success, but it could have been much more effective if some traditions were changed and courses were aligned with the interests of urban students.

I eventually graduated from college and went back to my hometown to teach high school agricultural education. It was my goal to focus on the urban community and to start restructuring the small program. During my tenure at Jenks High School, the program doubled in enrollment and a second teacher was added. Courses like agricultural mechanics were replaced with a modified power and technology course, locally titled Home Improvement, and FFA chapter activities were designed to reflect daily interests of my urban students. For example, our FFA officers created a skateboard tournament at a local skate park to replace one of the more traditional items on our program of activities.

My experience as both an agricultural education student and teacher has guided my research as a university faculty member. As a result, I am committed to researching urban communities, schools, and students and disseminating information to agricultural educators and school administrators that will help aid the efforts to expand and strengthen agricultural education in urban America. …

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