What is Agricultural Education?

Agricultural Education is one of the academic departments at Stark County High School.  Agricultural Education is the application of life sciences, economics, business, and leadership in our everyday lives.  It covers some of the most current topics today including medicine, renewable energy, climate change, and genetics & biotechnology.  Courses in Agricultural Education are able to go deep into the issues that matter most in order to show how all subjects – including math, English, and science – matter to each individual student.  Students in Agricultural Education are also able to go deeper into their education through out-of-class opportunities in research, service, and the National FFA Organization. They gain from a wider exposure to core subjects and are trained to become better students, more knowledgeable citizens, and stronger leaders.

What is Agricultural Education in Secondary Schools?

      Agriculture is a broad-spectrum industry with a diversity of career and job opportunities. Only a small percentage of those people working in agricultural industry are involved in production agriculture. The rest work in agribusiness, communications, science, government, education, processing and distribution, marketing and sales, as well as other occupations that serve the farmer or the total agricultural industry.
Based upon the above information, instructional programs have been clustered to deliver instruction that will provide students with a wide range of opportunities for entry-level employment or further education. New and emerging occupations in biotechnology, microtechnology, electronic and satellite technology in agricultural mechanics, and integrated financial management will necessitate a sound foundation in agriculture at the secondary level. As these new occupational areas and others develop and labor needs are demonstrated, additional program and course descriptions will be developed. A regional delivery system should offer training for occupations as determined by employment opportunities and the needs of the students.
There are five career clusters (or pathways) for Illinois agricultural education:

Agricultural Business and Management
Agricultural Mechanics and Technology
Horticulture Services Operations and Management
Agricultural Sciences
Natural Resources Conservation Management
Course descriptions and suggested sequences for these five career pathways
have been developed and can be accessed by clicking here:
Eight components of a quality agricultural education program are:
1-Qualified, Certified and Professional Instructor
2-Student Services
3-Articulated, Sequentially Structured, Total Agricultural Education Program
4-Supervised Agricultural Experience Programs (SAEPs)
5-Active Career and Technical Student Organization (FFA)
6-Facilities and Equipment
7-Active Agricultural Education Advisory Committee
8-Adult Education Program To learn more about these quality components click here:
Agricultural Education is an integral part of the Illinois School Code.  Classroom instruction, FFA membership, and Supervised Agricultural Experience(SAE) are required for funding.

Agricultural Education has a solid track record. Nearly 65 percent of agriculture’s graduating seniors enter post-secondary education.
It’s working. The program has experienced a steady increase in the number of students in high school agricultural/horticultural education programs and FFA. 90 percent of students are non-farm students, 37 percent are female, and 10 percent are minority. 

It serves more and more student high school graduation needs. About 78 percent of the departments allow agriculture courses to fulfill high school graduation requirements in academic areas of math, science, language arts, social studies and consumer education.

An average $1741 in state incentive funding is awarded to local programs to purchase state-of-the-art equipment and curriculum materials. Incentive funding has saved many agricultural programs from extinction as well.

Online curriculum with more than 1000 agricultural lesson plans have been developed and are provided free of charge to Illinois agricultural teachers. The material, which is based upon Illinois Learning, Occupational Skill and Workplace Skill Standards, is now being used in 42 other states and the curriculum has been adopted in its entirety in 14 states.

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