This is an article from the December 2017 edition of NAAE’s News & Views Newsletter. To read News & Views in its entirety, please visit this link.
Welcome from the President
The recent NAAE Convention in Nashville, TN was a huge success. Over 700 agriculture teachers were in attendance and took advantage of the 85 workshop and professional development opportunities that occurred during the week. We heard from sponsors and awarded numerous outstanding teachers and programs. It was a pleasure to be in Nashville and be able to visit and share ideas with all of the ag educators.
“Change” was the word that was on everyone’s mind after the first day of the convention. Changing the FFA Charter and changing the way ag education is delivered was often talked about. These topics are certainly things that we need to be mindful for, but also thoughtful about. Patience will need to be taken so that these issues will be in the best interest for our students, as well as our programs, with cooperation a top priority.
Agriculture has changed a lot in the last five years, especially how people view agriculture. It is not just the evening news that will make an occasional report, but now we have social media, as well as marketing, that will declare views on agriculture daily. A lot of these social media reports paint an ugly picture of agriculture -- whether the issues involves wolves, public land management, forest fires, water, GMO’s, or gluten free diets. More and more we are seeing a distinct disconnect between the producers and the consumers in America.
It has been reported that with the current political atmosphere, the urban-rural divide is getting increasingly bigger. There is a fear that by 2040 70% of the population will live in the 15 largest states, which creates less equalization in political votes as those largest states will only have 30 senate votes to the rural states' 70. As agricultural educators we are the front-line to protect agriculture’s image and sustainability. As ag teachers, we reside in some of the largest and smallest cities and towns. We need to teach our students "the sometimes harsh realities" of producing food, as well as to question everything that we now see, read, or hear from television, internet and radio sources.
I know through our NAAE organization, we are helping agriculture. Over the past couple of years, CASE curriculum has changed our delivery model for the good -- challenging us as well as our students. The National Teach Ag Campaign has developed recruitment and retention efforts to find and keep ag teachers in the classroom — the ag teacher shortage gap is getting smaller, and progress is being made from the high school to the university. Thirty states, with more on the way for 2018, have enrolled in the STAR program and have developed a guide to recruit, maintain, and mentor teachers.
For all the negatives that are in our world, let us make sure we are a positive light for agriculture and our students. I wish all of you a happy holiday season, and that you are able to recharge your batteries with family and friends, and come back to the classroom with as much zeal as you left it!
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