About Agricultural Education
The Agricultural Education Mission: Agricultural Education prepares students for successful careers and a lifetime of informed choices in the global agriculture, food, and natural resource systems.
Once known as Vocational Agriculture, today’s Agricultural Education carries on the tradition of providing instruction through an integrated model of classroom instruction, leadership development, and experiential learning.
Knowing that the agricultural industry employs one of every three Nebraskans, and that world population will increase by over 2.5 billion people within their lifetime, students are motivated in this career field. They equip themselves for this reality in local classes/programs and during world-class district, state and national educational experiences. The Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Career Cluster is comprised of six Career Pathways (see right), all of which are essential to the economic development of Nebraska.
By serving students in 189 schools across Nebraska, Agricultural Education provides these opportunities to over 15,000 young people each year.
Integrating the three essential components:
A student’s experience in agricultural education starts in the classroom with direct instruction from an Agricultural Education teacher. Students can expect classes to be based on career opportunities within Nebraska’s leading industry. Often structured as ‘hands on’ courses, today’s agricultural class prepares students for both career and college opportunities. Teachers work hard to ensure their students are the beneficiaries of experiences that can only happen at the intersection of academics and real life.
Most schools with an agricultural education program provide hands-on experiences for their students with mechanics laboratories, greenhouses, aquaculture/aquaponics labs, land plots, large and small animal
laboratories, and throughout the community by use of field trips and guest speakers.
Certified teachers with an endorsement in Agricultural Education engage their students in 34 available courses based on the identified career pathways within Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Career Cluster.
Instruction in leadership has been a cornerstone of agricultural education for
over 85 years. As mechanization of agricultural processes enabled other
industries to be born, fewer Americans were involved with the production and processing for food. The Future Farmers of America organization was established in 1928 in order to enable those involved with production agriculture to have a voice among a shrinking employment base with the goals of educating consumers disconnected from industry and to affect policy.
Today, the FFA has shed its acronym and is known as the National FFA Organization in response to the number of agricultural careers that are non-production in nature. With a redefined agricultural industry in resurgence (and as one of the only industries with a trade surplus), FFA membership is at an all-time high at over 650,000 members nationally. Nebraska membership is over 9,000, and is the largest Career and Technical Student Organization in Nebraska. FFA develops students’ potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.
True learning also occurs outside of the classroom. When students apply knowledge in their personal lives and are given a choice about what fields they will develop skills in and study, they transfer their learning into experiences that often lead to a successful career. A student’s Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) is a formal way to gain that experience under supervision of their Agricultural Education instructor. SAE programs allow students to take knowledge gained in the classroom and apply it to a career setting.
Student SAEs can consist of Placement/Internship, Entrepreneurship/Ownership, Research (Experimental, Analytical, or Invention), School Based Enterprises, Service Learning, or be of an exploratory nature. Students document their experiences through an electronic portfolio known as the SAE Record Book. In this, they track their personal goals, skills attained, and financial records for their business and personal lives. Teacher-led instruction within the classroom and during SAE visitations empowers student to make year-round wise decisions for themselves that will extend into their future and lives.