Modern Day Interpersonal Skills in Agricultural Education

By Cooper, Taylor | The Agricultural Education Magazine, September/October 2015 | Go to article overview

Modern Day Interpersonal Skills in Agricultural Education


Cooper, Taylor, The Agricultural Education Magazine


Editor's Note: The National Collegiate Agricultural Education Essay Contest is held in October of each year with participants developing their essays from a topic selected by the host chapter advisor. The essays are presented at the National ATA Conclave. Students competed in two divisions this year: the traditional Individual Essay division and the Co-Author division (two or more authors). The winning essays are included in this issue.

As a soon to be second generation agricultural education teacher, I enjoy comparing the teaching style that my father developed when he went to college 30 years ago with the one that I am creating for myself currently. The differences between the two are astounding. Whereas he learned to focus more on the production side of agriculture because that was what was going to be essential for the kids of that time, I am learning that developing a different set of skills that are essential for students in the 21st century. Interpersonal skills such as critical thinking, adaptability and collaboration are becoming the essential skills for students when they enter the work force in our modern day society. The best way for students to really develop these skills is for teachers to apply them in aspects of the three-circle model that agricultural education is based. The three-circles that make up the basis of agriculture education consist of: SAE or supervised agricultural experience, FFA participation, and finally classroom learning. It is in these different circles of agricultural education that we see these century skills being applied.

In the supervised agriculture experience (SAE), students are expected to begin and manage their own project. This project can be one that focuses on what students may do at home, on the farm or another job they may have. Critical thinking plays a huge role in what a student must complete with their SAE projects (Lamm, 2012). With critical thinking skills, students are able to solve problems that they may come across during their projects. If there is a shortage of feed for their herd of cows or if one of their tractors broke down during planting, students need to possess these critical thinking skills to help with that. With critical thinking skills, students will be able to work around any problem that is set in front of them.

In FFA, a leadership based organization that students can participate in outside of their classroom learning, students have a wide range of different competitions and other activities that students can participate in. Through career development events or competitions, students are afforded the opportunity to discover and tap into their potential as leaders (Rose, 2014). Adaptability is one skill that is essential for potential leaders and students to gain from FFA. Because of the numerous different competitions that are offered to students of this organization, they must be able to be diverse enough to participate in any of these competitions at a moment's notice. On the other side of FFA, the ability for students to be adaptable at different conventions really shows how well they can fit into new environments and organize themselves into a group. Adaptability in the workplace is essential for working in a new surroundings as compared to their past setting. …

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