Sustainable Agriculture, Sustainable Agricultural Education

By Ricketts, John C. | The Agricultural Education Magazine, January/February 2008 | Go to article overview

Sustainable Agriculture, Sustainable Agricultural Education


Ricketts, John C., The Agricultural Education Magazine


Sustainable Agriculture, Sustainable Agricultural Education is an interesting theme for this first issue of 2008. When you first read the theme and begin to analyze its meaning you may think there are two separate concepts we are trying to deal with, but as you read the wonderful set of articles in the pages that follow you will see that sustainable agriculture introduces some concepts that may help us sustain agricultural education. You may also discover, as I did, that sustainable agricultural education could be a key to sustainable agriculture. So, the theme makes sense after all, doesn't it? Well, there was one other thing I was struggling with as I read through the articles in this issue. Is sustainability (sustaining something for a long time without harming the environment or diminishing a resource) really what we are after? What we really want to do "is hold true to the best traditions" of agricultural education, while also seeking appropriate changes that are simply the right thing to do.

I would argue that the total program of agricultural education (Classroom teaching, SAE, FFA) is one of our best traditions. Several of the articles in this issue address different components of the total program and provide suggestions for sustaining these programs and for improving them. (In fact, I can't wait to try out some of the specific ideas and to share some of the others with my soon to be agriculture teachers.) One component of a total program is classroom and/or laboratory teaching. The articles in this issue provide formal (classroom) and non-formal teaching techniques for improving students' academic and personal levels of achievement.

Academic achievement is an en vogue buzzword in public education, but what does it mean? As agricultural educators we know that student achievement comes in many forms (i.e. leadership, problem-solving, responsibility, critical thinking, etc.). To many policy makers and school principals it means students who make better grades and who score better on standardized tests. This issue of the magazine speaks to all types of student achievement, and if all of us could adopt a large portion of the suggestions made in this issue we would be well on our way to a sustainable future.

In the article by Park, Literacy as it Relates to Sustainability in Agricultural Education, it is noted that literacy (another buzzword in our schools) is reading and writing, but its also ways of thinking and the competencies, skills, and knowledge that our students need to function in all phases of society. Thoron and Myers' article, Agriscience: Sustaining the Future or Our Profession, also speaks to preservation and innovation agricultural education teaching methodologies and practices. …

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