FFA has partnered with the National Council for Agricultural Education (NCAE) on a new program intended to address barriers to supervised agricultural experience (SAE) completion. With the ultimate goal of helping all agricultural education students and FFA members engage in an SAE, the SAE for All program also gives students the ability to explore their career interests both inside and outside the classroom. As a result, students are getting even more benefit from completing their SAEs.
“The SAE for All program is the product of a decade-long SAE renewal process that was initiated by the NCAE,” says Michael Womochil, agricultural program director for the Colorado Community College System and member of the NCAE SAE Renewal Committee. “We talked to ag education stakeholders and gatekeepers at the state and local levels to determine the barriers keeping members from having a quality work-based learning experience through the SAE program. We realized many students do not have access to active agricultural businesses like farms and ranches, or they simply don’t have the resources necessary to complete a project outside the classroom. It became clear that changes needed to be made in order for all students to participate in the program.”
The SAE for All program offers two levels of involvement for agricultural education students: Foundational SAEs and Immersion SAEs. Foundational SAEs have five focus areas – career exploration and planning, personal financial management and planning, workplace safety, agricultural literacy, and employability skills for college and career readiness – that are required and graded components of every ag education course. Immersion SAEs, however, take place outside of formal instruction and can include internships, business ownership or entrepreneurship, research, service learning or embarking on a school-based enterprise.
Emily Rudder, FFA advisor and agriculture teacher at Limon High School in Limon, Colo., has already implemented the SAE for All program, and she’s seen firsthand how beneficial it can be. According to Rudder, part of the success she’s witnessed is in the way the program helps students identify their strengths, weaknesses and career aspirations. Through SAE for All, they can use those tools to create a project that’s perfect for them and aligns with their unique interests.
“SAE for All is a wonderful way for teachers and FFA advisors to help each and every ag student have work-based learning experiences that are meaningful, relevant and important to them,” Rudder says. “With this new program, all of our students can pursue what they’re interested in while also seeing the career possibilities available to them in agriculture.”