The Community That Combines Agricultural Education Together
Alston, Antoine, The Agricultural Education Magazine
Today's growing global population places greater pressure upon the world's existing food, fiber, and natural resources more than any other time in history. With this factor in mind it is imperative that individuals with the requisite knowledge, skills, and dispositions are placed in positions of leadership to foster the global agricultural industry through both prosperous and turbulent times. According to the National FFA Organization agriculture is America's largest industry with over 21 million individuals employed in various sectors of the industry. With an industry so extensive and vitally important to mankind's very survival it would undoubtedly require many individuals and a diverse array of organizations working in collaboration to ensure the continued flow of food and fiber and the conservative utilization of increasingly scarce natural resources. The African proverb "It takes a village to raise a child" most certainly holds true for the global agricultural industry because it in fact takes a plethora of individuals to promote a sense of agricultural literacy among mankind as a whole.
When I was approached about organizing this theme edition regarding developing professional relationships within the greater agricultural education community, I reflected back upon my career in agricultural education and the importance of the relationships that I have developed over the years. I additionally thought about the relationships that my father and his fellow secondary agricultural educators developed throughout their careers and the impact that each had upon their respective programs. Effective educators, regardless of their discipline, learn early on in their careers that providing students with a dynamic educational experience involves more than traditional classroom methodologies, but is truly a community endeavor involving an assortment of stakeholders (i.e. parents, administrators, entrepreneurs, community colleges, etc.) which bring a multitude of resources and experiences to the educational environment. As a teacher educator I have witnessed firsthand the positive impact that developing a network of professional relationships can have upon one's students outlook - i.e. providing them with a cadre of contacts, resources, and experiences I realistically could not provide solely as an instructor. The old saying that "two heads are better than one" is truly a profound statement, particularly when it comes to developing quality educational programming in agriculture.
The World Food Program (2009) estimates that about one billion people are undernourished globally, a factor which can be attributed to several key factors including a poor agricultural infrastructure and the unwise use of environmental resources. …