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AgCN delivers efficiency for students and instructors

The Agricultural Career Network streamlines the application process with newly released Degree/Application Manager.

By Clayton Worley, AgCN Product Manager, National FFA Organization

Hopefully, you have already heard about the career exploration feature of the Agricultural Career Network provided by the National FFA Organization. Through the online system, students are able to fill out career interest assessments, build a resume, and now complete FFA award and degree applications. The benefits of a single electronic platform include:

  • the opportunity for students to collaborate with their teachers and state staff during the application process, rather than at final submission.
  • the potential to reduce errors that an Excel spreadsheet would not catch.
  • the ability to create draft versions that can be viewed from any computer.

The Degree/Applications Manager tool is accessed by instructors and students on the left navigation menu of their personal portal in AgCN.

Hosted by AET, the Degree/Application Manager provides a single platform for all applications. Students applying for the 2013 SAE Grants have already accessed the system. This spring the 2014 American FFA Degree applicants have the option of completing their application online as well

Rebecca Carter, education specialist with the National FFA Organization, said, “With the online SAE Grant application we have seen an increase in the number submitted.” In addition to benefits for students, the system allows for a single location for national FFA to update all teachers with minor edits to existing applications. Carter shared that another benefit is a secure server and backup system to ensure data security.

Some additional benefits for the new online application environment include:

  • Each entry is automatically saved to reduce chances of losing data.
  • Students can now spell check to reduce errors.
  • There are additional help areas to illustrate “Not Met” areas.
  • There is easier transition between pages rather than multiple page breaks in the Excel version.
  • The system allows easier teacher/student collaboration.
  • For the 2013 SAE Grant, the new application system allowed for electronic approval and submission, improving the judging/scoring process.

Future enhancements

The Degree/Application Manager will include additional applications that will be released through AgCN in the coming months. “Having an online tool that students can access anytime is very beneficial, said Carter, a former agriculture educator from Virginia. "Having the ability to track the progress and applications electronically in a central location assists with the efficiency of the classroom."

To assist teachers in the classroom, applications such as the Discovery, Greenhand and Chapter degree will be housed in AgCN soon. Currently these are only available as a PDF at www.FFA.org. Once the fillable web form is completed, a student can choose to electronically submit or print a completed PDF to give to their instructor.

Students, teachers and state staff should check the Degree/Application Manager portal periodically. Look for the proficiency, STAR degree battery, Agriscience Fair, and National Chapter applications to be added throughout 2014.