Who Will Teach Vocational Agriculture To Our Kids?

Hoosier Perspectives

Many openings spur thinking about who will be teachers of tomorrow.

Published on: May 30, 2012

Key individuals in local communities have done such a good job selling the benefits of ag education and FFA that there could be more jobs than teachers to go around as early as this year in Indiana. At least two new programs are opening up, wanting multiple teachers. Other programs want to restart or expand, if they can find someone to fill the slot.

Why the interest in vocational agriculture, especially only a couple of years after Governor Daniels sweeping education reforms didn't seem to include vocational programs? It appears that the discussion motivated many people to go to bat for agriculture and other vocational programs. Administrators are seeing the benefits of a hands-on program which can also fulfill science requirements for many students, and the funding they get for every student ion one of these classes on a set date in September probably doesn't hurt either.

Usually if a program is so popular people want to join in or expand, it's a good problem to have. That may yet prove to be the case, but the problem right now is that there are only a handful of graduates coming out of Purdue who want to teach agriculture. Some have already been hired. Others have chosen other professions. So the rumor mill says there are as many as two dozen schools scrambling over half a dozen candidates.

That doesn't count the schools that can lure an experienced teacher away from another program. However, that simply creates a domino effect. If a teacher leaves a good program, that position must be filled.

The number of openings may draw out people with degrees who haven't been teaching for whatever reason. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you snag an excellent teacher that way. Scott Jacobs, a premier ag teacher, came to Eastern Hancock over a decade ago after 14 years in industry. His program is bulging at the seams, and extremely successful on a number of fronts. But he came back for the right reason- he wanted to teach kids.

There may be those out there who just want a job, who don't really want to work with FFA members until at night preparing for a contest. People with that attitude won't help promote the future of ag education or help students with a passion to go far in FFA judging  and leadership development opportunities.

We will be watching as this plays out. It could be a watershed moment for this important part of agriculture- teaching young people to get involved in the field.