Measuring the Economic Value of Ag Ed and Benefits to Economy

By Hanagriff, Roger D. | Techniques, February 2010 | Go to article overview

Measuring the Economic Value of Ag Ed and Benefits to Economy


Hanagriff, Roger D., Techniques


WHAT DOES MONEY HAVE TO DO WITH EDUCATION or should it even be talked about in the same conversation? Money is often not communicated in relation to educational benefits. Education needs financial support and areas of career and technical education (CTE) funding such as agriculture education require higher levels of financial support. Financial investments are difficult to commit when the return is unknown, and the unknown may be educational but economics should be part of the equation.

Consider the common areas of successful agriculture education: involvement in SAEs (Supervised Agriculture Experience), classroom learning and FFA. During the 2009 National Association of Supervisors Agricultural Education Conference, Gary Moore, Ph.D., of North Carolina State University, reported that of the three aspects of agriculture education, the SAE sector was shrinking; redeveloping that focus is one of the issues facing agriculture education. According to recent research by Roberts and Harlin (2007), many new SAEs have developed to expand projects, and they are welcomed; but entrepreneurship SAEs are central to agriculture education. The dollars involved in these activities are intensive and likely impact success, but dollar value is rarely an aspect of program evaluation.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Essential Aspects to Consider in Program Evaluation

Program evaluation is a common approach in educational assessment (see Figure 1). The three aspects are all individually valuable, but combined provide a complete evaluation of program value. Agriculture is likely doing a good job in evaluating the "learning value" in agriculture education. Examples could include measured test scores, proficiency applications for SAEs, FFA activities competitions, and even some new areas of related standardized testing and agriculture education involvement. Personal growth value is likely another frequent evaluation area. Examples include blue jackets presenting at state legislative functions, involvement in community development activities and a host of other examples of growing leaders. However, the economic value is less known and diverse in the realm of conversations on how to best measure it in agriculture education.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

Measuring the Economics in Agriculture Education

As previously mentioned, SAEs are the experiences students gain as part of their education. An early researcher, Stinson (1919), reported "neither skill nor business ability can be learned from books alone, nor merely from observation of the work and management of others. Both require active participation, during the learning period, in productive farming operations of real economic or commercial importance" (p. 32).

In 1985, the Western Region of the American Association for Agricultural Education included examining economic impact among their regional research emphasis areas. Cole and Council (1993) found that studies were completed in the region on leadership and advancement of educational progress, but none related to economic assessment even though it was one of the areas identified for research in 1985. States such as Oregon used teacher salaries as a measure, while Georgia used money earned and spent by students as measures of economic impact. Missouri and Iowa used a longitudinal approach in measuring annual placement SAE values as the measure of economic impact. The focus of economics in agriculture research is a set agenda, but the approach is mixed in how to measure the value.

This article looks at the measurement of economic value using entrepreneurial SAE investment cost and chapter travel as the base of economic value. Placement SAEs are values, but paychecks pull money out of the economy and the redirection of spending from students is not clear. Entrepreneurship SAEs arc clear investments required as an SAE and provide potential benefits to local suppliers and business in the economy. …

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