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Agricultural Education is the teaching of agriculture, natural resources, and land management through hands on experience and guidance to prepare students for entry level jobs of to further education to prepare them for advanced agricultural jobs. Classes that may be taught in an agricultural education curriculum include horticulture, land management, turf grass management, agricultural science, small animal care, machine and shop classes, health and nutrition, livestock management, biology courses, etc. Agricultural education can be taught at the elementary level, middle school level, secondary, post secondary and adult levels. Elementary agriculture is taught in public schools and private schools, and deals with such subjects as how plants and animals grow and how soil is farmed and conserved. Vocational agriculture trains people for jobs in such areas as production, marketing, and conservation. College agriculture involves training of people to teach, conduct research, or provide information to advance the field of agriculture and food science in other ways. General education agriculture informs the public about food and agriculture.
The chief sources of agriculture education in the United States are:
Agricultural education at the high school level focuses on three main categories: classroom instruction, supervised agricultural experience (SAE), and active involvement in the National FFA Organization (Future Farmers of America).
Agricultural education is taught on the college level as well. Degrees in agricultural education can be used to teach agriculture or obtain a job in an agricultural related work field. This degree can give students the qualifications and knowledge necessary to teach agricultural classes such as the courses offered at the high school level. Students will be required to complete agriculture classes as well as education classes in order to become qualified to teach. A bachelor’s degree in agricultural education will qualify a person to teach classes all the way up to the high school level. A Masters degree is required in order to teach on the college level. An agricultural education degree also gives the qualifications to do extension work for universities and agriculture related companies and organizations. Colleges and universities award about 21,000 bachelor's degrees in agriculture each year (1988). About 6,000 other students receive a master's or doctor's degree (1988).
Land-grant universities award more than three-quarters of all agricultural degrees (1988). These state schools receive federal aid under legislation that followed the Morrill Act of 1862, which granted public lands to support agricultural or mechanical education. Land-grant universities have three chief functions:
Colleges of agriculture prepare students for careers in all aspects of the food and agricultural system. Some career choices include food science, veterinary science, farming, ranching, teaching, marketing, agricultural communication, management, and social services.
The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), the largest national education association dedicated to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for careers, provides resources for agricultural education.
Each land-grant university has an agricultural experiment station equipped with laboratories and experimental farms. There, agricultural scientists work to develop better farming methods, solve the special problems of local farmers, and provide new technology. Research published in scholarly journals about agricultural safety is available from the NIOSH-supported National Agricultural Safety Database. The American Dairy Science Association provides research and education scholarships focused on the dairy farm and processing industries.
The Cooperative Extension System is a partnership of the federal, state, and county governments. This service distributes information gathered by the land-grant universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to farmers, families, and young people. County extension agents, located in most countries (1988), train and support about 3 million (1988) volunteer leaders. Agents and volunteers carry out extension programs through meetings, workshops, newsletters, radio, television, and visits.
The rapid growth of agricultural education began during the late 19th century. In 1862, the United States Congress created the Department of Agriculture to gather and distribute agricultural information. The Morrill Act, which provided the land-grant schools, became law that same year. The Hatch Act of 1887 gave federal funds to establish agricultural experiment stations. The first dairy school in the U.S. was created at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1890.
Government support for agricultural education has increased during the 20th century. For example, the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 created what is now the Cooperative Extension System (1988). The Smith-Hughes Act of 1917 and the George-Barden Act of 1946 financed high-school instruction in farming. Woodlawn High School (Woodlawn, Virginia) was the first public high school in the United States to offer agricultural education classes under the Smith-Hughes Act. The Vocational Education Act of 1963 funded training in other fields of agriculture.
Agricultural science and education expanded after 1900 in response to a need for more technical knowledge and skill. This development led to the use of modern farming methods that required fewer farmworkers. Another major result of this change was the creation of larger farms and ranches. This development increased the need for more agriculture science and education. Other legislation influenced the development of agricultural education into what the field is today. It has developed throughout the last century from various laws and pieces of legislation. Some of the laws include:
The history of agricultural education predates USA activities and derives from, the development of Scottish, Italian and German colleges. The land grant approach of the USA owes much to the Scottish system in particular. Changes in higher agricultural education around the world today are highlighting implicit approaches that have hampered development and exceptional advances that have fed the world. the process has been described in one text (below) which takes a global perspective.
Agricultural education in other countries resembles that in the United States. Canada has its own 4-H program. Agriculture Canada distributes information on new farming methods and maintains experimental farms, research stations, and research institutions throughout the country. BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation operates in the province of British Columbia. In Australia, each state has several agricultural research stations and an extension service. Great Britain has a program of youth clubs called Young Farmer's Clubs that resemble 4-H. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations works to train people throughout the world in modern farming methods. The United States gives technical assistance to farmers in developing nations through its Agency for International Development (AID).
[clarification needed] "By 2015 there will be in operation 10,000 quality agricultural science education programs serving students through an integrated model of classroom/laboratory instruction, experiential learning, and leadership and personal skill development. Further, all students will be members of the FFA and have a supervised agricultural experience that supports classroom and laboratory instruction.' -Team Ag Ed
The Case for Growth and Quality in Agricultural Education
Of the critical issues facing the nation, few are more compelling than improving the academic performance of public schools and ensuring a stable, safe and affordable food supply. Today agricultural education is positioned to contribute substantially in these arenas through a major national initiative. Under the direction of The National Council for Agricultural Education, the “10x15 Long Range Goal for Agricultural Education” employs a comprehensive strategy engaging eight high-priority initiatives. The focus of the unprecedented effort is twofold: create new programs in communities not yet served by agricultural education and FFA, and ensure the quality and high performance of current programs providing personal, academic and career education in agriculture. While the goal of “10x15” is to grow the number of agricultural education programs from 7,200 to 10,000 by the year 2015, the clear emphasis is on quality.
Several factors make this effort timely and essential. First, the public’s expectations for higher student achievement are leading to dramatic increases in accountability, standards, rigor and relevance throughout education. Especially critical is the need to raise math and science proficiency. Second, the industry of agriculture, already concerned about meeting growing domestic and global demands for food and fiber, is eager to identify the future managers, leaders and workers who will ensure the future security and productivity of agriculture. A forecasted shortage of well-educated workers is adding urgency to the issue. Also, concerns about food safety, security and independence are registering at the highest levels of agribusiness and government. Lastly, local communities are intent on cultivating leadership and securing effective participation from their citizens. Through the intra-curricular programs of agricultural education and the FFA, a half-million students are developing skills in leadership, communication, team building and civic engagement. They will be prepared to provide for the social, economic and cultural well-being of small communities and large urban centers alike.
The work of “10x15” is concentrated in eight national taskforces operating over the next several years. Their scope of work includes national program and content standards; teacher recruitment and preparation; alternative program design; data reporting; public advocacy; brand communication strategy; and program funding. Driving the work of “10x15” are more than a hundred top leaders drawn from today’s Team Ag Ed, including teachers, students, university educators, state education leaders, the National FFA Organization, alumni, business and industry, and key stakeholders
Stephen Babcock established the first 'Dairy School' in the nation in 1890.