Academic journal article NACTA Journal

Enhancing Agricultural Leadership Education through the Inclusion of Entrepreneurial Principles and Practices

Academic journal article NACTA Journal

Enhancing Agricultural Leadership Education through the Inclusion of Entrepreneurial Principles and Practices

Article excerpt


The potential value of formally integrating entrepreneurial principles and practices into agricultural leadership programs at the collegiate level is conceptually explored. The compatibility of agricultural leadership and entrepreneurship education is demonstrated through the identification of shared learning objectives and a common reliance on experiential learning models. Furthermore, the observations and arguments made throughout the paper are consistently aligned with the agricultural leadership and general leadership education literatures. An interdisciplinary collegiate entrepreneurship education program that is designed to provide students with an enhanced capacity to act as change agents illustrates the relevancy and applicability of entrepreneurship to agricultural leadership. This experiential-based program is fully outlined to provide agricultural leadership instructors with a model for integrating entrepreneurial principles and practices into existing curricula.


The merits of integrating entrepreneurial principles and practices into collegiate agricultural leadership curricula warrant exploration. Collegiate leadership education is an area of growing interest to agriculture faculty and instructors (Acker, 2005). This focus on leadership is not new to agricultural education. In 1998, for example, Fritz and Brown indicated that almost 70% of agricultural education departments offered leadership-oriented courses. More recently, departments are increasingly being renamed to include leadership in formal titles (McCormick et al., 2007). The infusion of leadership into agricultural education curricula has focused mostly on conventional principles and practices that are understood to be essential factors in the career preparation of students (e.g., communications, conflict management, team building, etc.). The inclusion of entrepreneurship and innovation in agricultural leadership curricula and training programs is an opportunity to further develop the capacities of students and emergent professionals to be effective agents of change.

Innovation and entrepreneurship have long shaped and influenced the economic and social contributions of the agricultural sector to the nation (Alsos et al., 2011; Macke and Markely, 2006; Morgan et al., 2010; Wortman, Jr., 1990). The capacity of agricultural professionals to pursue innovative opportunities and engage in entrepreneurial strategies remains vital to the ability of the nation to both remain economically competitive and effectively confront escalating concerns over food security. Accordingly, the integration of entrepreneurial principles and practices into collegiate agricultural leadership training programs is timely.

Experiential learning has been shown to be particularly effective in preparing students to be entrepreneurial agents of change (Mars et al., 2008; Mars and Rhoades, 2012). To date, agricultural educators have mostly overlooked the promise of entrepreneurship as a strategic mechanism useful in enhancing individual and group capacities to create and lead innovation and change within and across agricultural settings and environments. Accordingly, the positioning of entrepreneurship as a mechanism useful in enhancing student capacity to create and lead change within established firms, organizations, and other agricultural-based settings within agricultural leadership curricula warrants attention.

The Intersection of Entrepreneurship and Agricultural Leadership Education and Training Entrepreneurship as a field of study has over the past decade expanded beyond business schools to now have an established presence across the disciplinary landscape of the academy (Kuratko, 2005, Shinnar et al., 2009). This expansion has in some cases included colleges of agriculture (Knudson et al., 2004). Overall, however, the inclusion of entrepreneurship in agricultural education curricula remains an under-exploited opportunity to provide agriculture and extension students with greater exposure to entrepreneurial knowledge and skill sets. …

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