The reality is that we don’t actually have the choice of marketing or not marketing our program. As teachers of agricultural education, we market our program simply by existing. The question is whether we do so with or without intent. Believe me, if you’re not marketing intentionally – working a strategy for telling your story and the story of your students – no one will do it for you.
The National Quality Program Standards ask if your school administrators, board members, Alumni, counselors, parents and other community members know what your program goals and objectives are. Do they know your program’s course prerequisites? Do they know what your program (not just FFA chapter) is accomplishing? The Standards also ask if you have a written marketing plan that is communicated to the school and community. Do you intentionally recruit students and then work to retain them? Do you report relevant program data to the school and community? Have you worked to develop a positive relationship with local, county/parish, state and national decision makers? Do they understand the value of your program?
These questions can seem pretty daunting at first glance. But think about what you are saying when you choose to say nothing at all. It leaves the door open for a lot of assumptions and misinterpretations by the people that can help you the most and the people that can cause you the most grief. This month’s edition of the Making a Difference highlights teachers who do an outstanding job of marketing their unique agricultural education programs. The fact that the programs are unique isn’t the key to their success; it’s that they tell their programs’ stories with intention. They share a number of marketing ideas and strategies that can be transferred to virtually any agriculture program out there.
This month’s question for the profession is, “How do you market your program with intention?” I hope that everyone will share that one good thing you do in response to the National Quality Program Standards. This will assist new and veteran teachers, alike, as they work toward sharing the story of agricultural education with their schools and communities. Please post your ideas on the NAAE Communities of Practice site at http://naae.ca.uky.edu:8080/clearspace_community/message/2528#2528