Early agriculture educators saw the value in getting community input, advice and vision. Religiously, they would meet with local citizens to take the temperature of their program—making sure what they were teaching was what the community needed, listening to local agriculturalists share their observations about student skills, and learning what new technologies were making their debuts on local farms.
Despite the obvious changes to agriculture and the agricultural education program, many teachers still practice the tradition of advisory committees. They still seek input from their constituents to identify the appropriate direction for their programs. But for every one of those teachers who has an effective advisory committee, there are probably two or more teachers who have them on paper only.
Perhaps seeking input takes too much time, too much effort, or we don’t believe we will like what we hear. Whatever the reason, the benefits of developing and engaging a group of local citizens in the process of program visioning and evaluation far outweigh the costs. The members can serve as advocates before issues become a problem for the teacher, they can help teachers identify what students need to be successful in the local job market, and they can help the teacher visualize the rewards of a strong program for years to come.
So, with all the benefits, where did all the advisory committees go? Why has a whole generation of agriculture educators created an advisory committee that exists only on paper to satisfy Perkins’ requirements? This is not a rhetorical question. Please share your thoughts on why teachers, including yourself, do or do not have an advisory committee in the NAAE Communities of Practice at: http://naae.ca.uky.edu:8080/clearspace_community/message/2820#2820