Recommendations Seek to Revitalize Agricultural Education in Iowa

August 2nd, 2007

AMES, Iowa - Introducing agricultural courses in Iowa middle schools, adding agricultural courses to high schools that don't have them and allowing agri-science classes to meet high school science requirements are some of the activities suggested by the Iowa Governor's Council on Agricultural Education to revitalize agricultural education in the state.

In June, the council developed 10 action steps from recommendations developed at the Summit on School-Based Agricultural Education in Iowa that was held on March 8. The summit drew more than 100 participants representing agricultural business, industry, education, private and public organizations and interest groups.

A shortage of agricultural educators plagues the state, according to Robert Martin, chair of the Governor's Council on Agricultural Education and chair of the agricultural education and studies department at Iowa State University.

"Enrollment in teacher education programs in agriculture is at an all-time low, but the demand for well-educated agriculturalists is at an all-time high," Martin said. "The retirement of baby boomers is beginning to increase the need for teachers in agriculture and other related areas, such as science, math and consumer sciences."

Programs to recruit and retain agricultural education teachers are among the action steps recommended by the council. A prospective teacher education visitation program for students is proposed to identify potential educators as well as an internship program for college students to shadow an ag educator.

Other proposals include increasing elementary students' awareness of agricultural careers, and biology teachers awareness of applied agricultural sciences in the bio-economy and career possibilities. Also proposed is a campaign to make the study of agricultural science an applied science earning it a place among other science subjects.

"These action steps and activities are only concepts," Martin said. "The details will have to be developed once they have received initial endorsement by the Governor's Council on Agricultural Education. Funding sources may vary according to opportunities in agri-business and industry, government services, private foundations and interested stakeholders."

The executive summary of the council recommendations is available by contacting Martin at (515) 294-5872 or by downloading it at: http://www.ageds.iastate.edu/ExecutiveSummary.pdf.

Contacts: 

Robert Martin, Agricultural Education and Studies, (515) 294-0896, drmartin@iastate.edu
Ed Adcock, Agriculture and Life Sciences Communication Service, (515) 294-5616, edadcock@iastate.edu