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 Perspectives​​: Top Ten Frequently Asked SAE Questions


I have had the opportunity while working at National FFA to serve agriculture educators as both a supervised agricultural experience program manager and a local program success specialist. As a result, I am still heavily involved in promoting SAE and providing professional development for teachers looking for new opportunities to implement SAE into their instruction. Given my history of involvement, I continue to encounter a number of questions that seem to resonate for teachers across the country. As a result, I have compiled a list of the top 10 frequently asked SAE questions. 

You will see a common theme in the answers given, as most are included in the SAE Handbook CD released as part of the “REV It Up” kits distributed in 2006. This CD is still available through The Core catalog of educational resources if you are unable to locate your copy or have begun teaching after they were distributed. This resource is, I believe, the best available information about SAE programming that has been developed and should be a premier resource for agricultural education instructors.

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the top 10 most frequently asked SAE questions!

  1. What is the definition of an SAE?
  2. The SAE Handbook gives us the following definition:  “An SAE consists of planned, practical activities conducted outside of class time in which students develop and apply agricultural knowledge and skills under the supervision of the teacher or other adult.”


  3. Where can I find lesson plans and instructional materials to introduce my students to SAE?
  4. The SAE Handbook CD contains a series of eight complete lessons plans in PDF format accompanied by a PowerPoint for classroom use. It also includes 13 SAE lessons plans and instructional materials from the LifeKnowledge series and has a link to online resources which can bolster your presentations and units. Every common aspect of SAE is covered in the lesson plans, and they are as complete a series of lessons plans on the subject as I’ve seen developed.


  5. Where can I find record books for student SAEs?
  6. The SAE Handbook includes a few SAE records books with contact information for the sources. In addition to these, many universities and commercial vendors have developed record books which cover all types of SAEs – several of which interface directly with the awards and degree programs of the National FFA Organization. Please feel free to contact fellow instructors, state staff or National FFA staff for more information on record books used in your state. You may also want to look to the NAAE’s “Communities of Practice” for documents that teachers are sharing in relation to records and SAE activities.


  7. When will the National FFA Organization develop or endorse a record book?
  8. Although it is possible that the National FFA Organization could someday develop a record book, it is more likely that they will continue to work with university and commercial developers on this effort. The National FFA Organization has long cooperated with vendors in developing record books for its members and agricultural education students. The selection of a record book entails many considerations based on the demographic of students, the industry of agriculture and the individual agricultural education program emphasis. Some states have developed their own records books and require the use of their materials. With this in mind, there likely will not be a required record book from the National FFA Organization in the near future.


  9. Where can I find SAE ideas and examples for my students?
  10. The SAE Handbook includes a section on SAE ideas that contains hundreds of SAE examples separated into the seven national agricultural career clusters. In addition, The Core catalog offers a box of SAE idea cards, which have been quite popular with agriculture teachers. Also, several resources have been developed over the years that were collected from actual applications received at the national level and can be found on (in the Educator’s Workroom) and in the SAE community on the NAAE “Communities of Practice” website.


  11. How can I manage reporting for students’ SAEs?
  12. The SAE Handbook includes templates for the various types of reports which are required or suggested as a part of the SAE. In addition, the Local Program Resource Guide, available in the Educator’s Workroom on, includes more than 10 documents in the SAE section to help you with collecting and reporting data and supervisory visits to administration, the advisory committee, etc.


  13. How do I grade or assess students’ SAEs?
  14. If we require SAE as a part of our agricultural program, we should be grading them. Several SAE assessments are included in the SAE Handbook CD under the “SAE Assessment Tools” section. In addition, the Local Program Resource Guide (Educator’s Workrooom on includes an assessment rubric for scoring SAEs.


  15. How can I show my school administration the need for adequate supervisory time for SAE?
  16. The National Quality Program Standards (available from the National Council for Agricultural Education) includes standards for the supervised agricultural experience program that address the need for extended contracts for this purpose. The National Quality Program Standards also addresses program planning. Educators should engage their advisory council in developing a plan that addresses adequate supervisory time for students and themselves.


  17. What types of SAE programs can students have?
  18. The SAE Handbook CD includes materials on the types of SAE programs available to students: entrepreneurship, placement, agriscience research, agricultural service learning, exploratory, improvement, supplemental and directed school laboratory. These are further outlined in the handbook, but the bottom line is that an SAE is broadly-defined and should be the best practical experience available for the development of the student.


  19. Does a student’s SAE have to lead to an advanced degree or proficiency award to be valid?
  20. It is not essential for an SAE to lead to an advanced degree or proficiency award for it to be valid and successful. The degree program and the proficiency award program were developed to provide incentive toward improving and expanding students’ SAEs and practical experiences.

Did I miss any of the questions you might have regarding SAEs? If so, pick up your copy of The Core catalog and order the SAE Handbook CD, or contact your local program success specialist.