Magazine article Techniques

Smith-Hughes Act Transforms Agricultural Education

Magazine article Techniques

Smith-Hughes Act Transforms Agricultural Education

Article excerpt

Sen. Hoke Smith and Rep. Dudley M. Hughes, both of Georgia, were instrumental in the passage of legislation that would revolutionize the educational landscape. This legislation--the Smith-Hughes National Vocational Education Act of 1917--provided federal funds for vocational education, setting the stage for today's career and technical education.

For the past 100 years, the Smith-Hughes Act, as well as other legislation, have been the driving force behind school-based agricultural education. With the passage of these acts, generations of students have been afforded the opportunity to delve into the world of agriculture--from farm to table and everything in between. As the national, professional organization for agriculture teachers, the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) truly appreciates what the Smith-Hughes Act has given its members, namely the opportunity to share their passion for agriculture with their students. It is thanks to agriculture teachers over the last 100 years that we have a booming agriculture industry and informed consumers.

Agriculture teachers use the three-circle model of instruction, which is a combination of classroom and laboratory instruction, experiential learning and leadership education. These three components work in tandem to develop the next generation of agriculturalists. What's more, agricultural educators work within this model to integrate the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) concepts that are present in agriculture, providing students with opportunities to apply their classroom knowledge to real-life scenarios.

Beyond the Classroom: Non-traditional Instruction

Beyond the classroom, agriculture teachers also take on a variety of roles in their students' lives, spending many hours after school, on the weekends and even during the summer equipping them with additional knowledge and experiences. It is through these extra hours of non-traditional instruction that agriculture teachers serve as mentors to their students.

These teachers have the unique opportunity to get to know their students on a personal level, from understanding their goals and aspirations, to the obstacles they may face. It is for this reason that agriculture teachers oftentimes play a key role in inspiring their students to follow in their footsteps and pursue their own degrees in this field.

For Anna Mink, a senior at Clemson University, it was just such a relationship that motivated her to pursue a degree in agricultural education. Mink began her journey as a sophomore at Aiken High School, in Aiken, South Carolina. Although she never intended to be involved in the agriculture program outside the classroom, her agriculture teacher, Meghan Wood, saw great potential in Mink and pushed her to succeed in every facet of her life during high school.

"Ms. Wood was truly a mentor. Whenever I thought something was good, she would tell me it could be better," said Mink. "She took extra time out other busy schedule to help me with homework--not even ag-related. She was determined to see me succeed and further my potential."

Because of Wood's unwavering determination to see her succeed, Mink was well-prepared to take on a leadership role at the local and state levels of the National FFA Organization, one of nine career and technical student organizations. Mink had multiple opportunities to develop and hone her leadership skills and make an impact on her community through various activities and events hosted by FFA. …

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