By Ellen Thompson, National Teach Ag Campaign Coordinator
In the fall of 1996, I started my freshman year at South Dakota State University majoring in animal science. By November that same year, I switched from animal science to ag business because it was pretty clear to me that my dream job of showing cattle and rodeoing was not going to work out. For the sake of time and pride, let us fast forward a year to October of 1997. I, like many college students, was contemplating my future and contribution to the world. My ag business major was not all it was cracked up to be. I really wanted to do something that combined my passion for agriculture, communication and leadership. Then the light bulb clicked. I met with Dr. Clark Hanson that afternoon. I was going to follow in my dad’s footsteps and become an AG TEACHER! I have not looked back since.
Unfortunately for many students, the career path into ag education is not so obvious. Many of you reading this may have a student in your classroom who would make an excellent ag teacher but you are not sure how to help them. Thankfully, there are a plethora of resources, tools and tips available for students, teachers, and stakeholders that address how to become an ag teacher and why it is a great career.
The most comprehensive ag teacher recruitment tool available to date is the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE )Teach Ag website. The website contains a listing of post-secondary schools by state that offer an ag education major along with contact information for each one. In addition, students have the capability of looking up the licensing credentials in each state as well as current job openings by state. Visitors to the site are encouraged to sign up for the Teach Ag Campaign where they receive timely correspondence about Teach Ag-related events, tips and other useful information. The site features a monthly spotlight on a current ag teacher, ag education undergraduate, and someone from industry sharing their thoughts on ag education. For teachers and state staff the site is jam packed with easy-to-use and fun lesson plans about becoming an ag teacher, games, a testimonial video, step by step activities, giveaway prizes and media resources. Is your state interested in holding a Teach Ag workshop for students? Great! The recent addition of a best practices portal, with everything from workshop outlines to sample invitations, makes the NAAE Teach Ag website your one-stop Teach Ag shop. The site is constantly being updated so chances are you will find something new every time you visit. http://www.naae.org/teachag.
The ag education family collectively came together several years ago and made teacher recruitment and retention a high priority. In doing so, a significant amount of time and energy has been put forth to make sure students who are interested in becoming an ag teacher are given every means necessary to make that choice a reality. So go on! Tag Your Replacement. The ag ed family has you covered with the resources to help make it happen.