Agriculture Education aff plans/Drafts



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Agricultural Literacy



Ag Literacy Low



Agricultural literacy declining now


Mercier, former Senate Agriculture Committee Chief Economist & Farm Journal Foundation Director of Policy and Advocacy, 15

[Stephanie, July 2015, AGree, “Food and Agricultural Education in the United States”, http://www.foodandagpolicy.org/sites/default/files/AGree_Food%20and%20Ag%20Ed%20in%20the%20US_0.pdf, p. 2-3, accessed 6-26-17, AFB]

Second, most Americans do not understand food and agriculture systems. The shrinking human footprint of agricultural production in the United States over the last century, especially as a share of U.S. population, along with a productive food system, has led to a diminution among the general public of understanding of what goes on in the U.S. agricultural sector and its vital importance to the nation in terms of abundant, affordable, and nutritious food that is safe and secure.

Few Americans equate food and agriculture with national security as periods of broad-based scarcity fade into history. According to USDA data, the share of the U.S. workforce employed in agriculture declined from 41 percent in 1900 to less than 1.5 percent in 2012.3,4 A survey conducted by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance in 2011 found that 72 percent of consumers report that they know little or nothing about farming or ranching,5 even though in general Americans have favorable impressions of agriculture and farming – with a 60 percent positive rating in a recent Gallup poll.6 Because of the importance of maintaining a secure food supply for the American public, improving the general understanding of the food and agricultural system, or ‘agricultural literacy’ among both civic leaders and the general public has become a significant objective among supporters of U.S. agriculture in recent years, and an effort has been made to incorporate such a focus within the U.S. food and agricultural education system as well. The importance of this matter prompted the American Farm Bureau Federation to begin developing their Pillars of Agricultural Literacy, a framework to enable continual enhancement of the public’s agricultural literacy, starting in elementary school but persisting through adult interactions.7

Ag literacy is depressed now


Holden, Forbes contributor, 17

[Ronald, internally cites a new report in the Journal of Agricultural Education, 6-15-17, Forbes, “Do Not Underestimate The Ignorance Of The American Eater,” https://www.forbes.com/sites/ronaldholden/2017/06/15/do-not-underestimate-the-ignorance-of-the-american-eater/#7ef6d75c7645, accessed 6.27.2017]//TRossow

What we call "agricultural literacy" is at a depressingly low point, according to a scholarly report in the Journal of Agricultural Education. One grade-school respondent, for example, told researchers that "My mommy told me bread comes from an animal. I don't know which animal."

In a front-page story, The Washington Post reports today that a high percentage of Americans do not have the most rudimentary understanding of food or agriculture. "Today, many Americans only experience food as an industrial product that doesn’t look much like the original animal or plant," the Post says.

The story reports on an online survey commissioned by the Innovation Center of U.S. Dairy.

A few examples:


  • 16 million people think chocolate milk comes from brown cows

  • 40% of California 4th-graders (5th and 6th graders, too) didn't know that hamburger comes from cows

  • Orange juice is the nation's most popular "fruit"

  • French fries and potato chips are the nation's most popular "vegetables"

Says the Post: "For decades, observers in agriculture, nutrition and education have griped that many Americans are basically agriculturally illiterate. They don’t know where food is grown, how it gets to stores — or even, in the case of chocolate milk, what’s in it."

There's actually a non-profit, FoodCorps, with a mission to bring more agricultural and nutrition education into elementary schools. But it may be a losing battle, according to Cecily Upton, FoodCorps co-founder. “Right now, we’re conditioned to think that if you need food, you go to the store. Nothing in our educational framework teaches kids where food comes from before that point.”

It wasn't that the kids didn't know, apparently; it's that they couldn't explain it in academic terms ““All informants recalled the names of common foods in raw form and most knew foods were grown on farms or in gardens," the researchers concluded. "They did not...possess schema necessary to articulate an understanding of post-production activities nor the agricultural crop origin of common foods.”


Ag Education Access Low Now



Agriculture education integration low now


Enns et al., College of Agricultural Studies Agricultural Education Associate Professor, 16

[Kellie, 2016, American Association for Agricultural Education, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION NATIONAL RESEARCH AGENDA 2016-2020, http://aaaeonline.org/resources/Documents/AAAE_National_Research_Agenda_2016-2020.pdf, page 15-16, Date accessed 6-28-17, RK]

The increased popularity of agriculture and agriculture related topics has led to an increasing number of organizations doing agricultural education work. A variety of programs in the U.S. seek to educate or inform youth and future policymakers about agriculture and natural resources. The effectiveness of these programs has been the subject of several publications (Kovar & Ball, 2013; Mercier, 2015; Powell & Agnew, 2011). Programs and curriculum projects exist in formal academic settings (e.g., Agriculture in the Classroom; Food, Land & People; Farm to School; FoodCorps), formal career and technical education settings (school-based or secondary agricultural education programs/FFA), and some in nonformal settings (e.g., 4-H, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts). However, it is estimated these programs are reaching only 2% (in the case of schoolbased agricultural education programs/FFA) to 12% of the school-age population (in the case of Agriculture in the Classroom) with educational resources and programming (Mercier, 2015). Alternative agricultural education approaches have emerged and gained popularity both locally and nationally, including the Agricultural Council of America (Agricultural Council of America, 2015), Slow Food USA (Slow Food USA, 2015), and community gardening associations (American Community Gardening Association, n.d.).

Status quo agriculture training insufficient to face impending food security challenges that threaten millions and undermine political stability worldwide


Mercier, former Senate Agriculture Committee Chief Economist & Farm Journal Foundation Director of Policy and Advocacy, 15

[Stephanie, July 2015, AGree, “Food and Agricultural Education in the United States”, http://www.foodandagpolicy.org/sites/default/files/AGree_Food%20and%20Ag%20Ed%20in%20the%20US_0.pdf, p. 1, accessed 6-26-17, AFB]

Food and agricultural education in the United States has changed over the nation’s history, starting in the 18th century as a means of providing farmers with the basic skills they needed to prosper on their farms. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, traditional agricultural education was focused on increasing production to sustain a growing and increasingly urban and industrial population. Today, the range of issues and subject matters important to agriculture has broadened, and the educational system to provide skilled individuals to fill the needed occupations has scrambled to keep pace. The crucial areas of expertise now encompass not just those trained in production agriculture but also food and nutrition, natural resources, and the know-how to maintain and improve the physical and scientific infrastructure that underlies modern agriculture, including an increased role for information technology with the emergence of “big ag data.” For the U.S. food and agricultural sector to be in a position to compete in the global markets of the 21st century, the food and agricultural education system must be expanded and strengthened to address the challenges and opportunities facing the global food system. The world will likely become a much more politically stable place if we can make a further dent in the number of hungry people, estimated at 805 million people in 2014 by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. This paper examines the evolution of U.S. food and agricultural education over time, its current structure, and how it must adapt to meet the challenges facing the sector.

Modern food and agricultural education takes many forms, ranging from children in grade school classrooms learning from “Agriculture in the Classroom” modules to undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in Colleges of Agriculture at land-grant universities and other schools with agricultural programs (such as Texas Tech and Southern Illinois Universities) to agricultural leadership programs available for adult professionals in farming and agribusiness in 42 states.1 This paper focuses primarily on food and agricultural education provided to students in elementary and secondary schools around the country (K-12), both inside and outside the classroom, and in community college programs. These programs are a means of exposing young people to careers in agriculture, and they are also a critical delivery mechanism to educate the general population about agriculture and food systems. The subjects covered in these educational settings have broadened in recent years to include health and nutrition and natural resource issues. The need for better knowledge in these areas has arisen as the general public has become more conscious of the health impacts of the food they eat and natural resource constraints such as water and arable land.

Today there are two primary reasons to support U.S. food and agricultural education activities for young people. First, we need to build a cadre of next generation farmers and ranchers as well as career seekers interested in food and agriculture. The 2012 Census of Agriculture reports that the average age of principal operators on U.S. farms is 58.3 years of age, with only 8.1 percent of all operators below the age of 35. U.S. agriculture would likely continue to produce abundant amounts of food and fiber if older farmers were not replaced as they retire, but the farm size composition of the sector could become further concentrated. To ensure that the social and economic stabilizing role of family farming is preserved, the U.S. government has for many decades taken steps to provide access to the two most important things a young farmer needs to get started: 1) adequate capital to buy or lease equipment and land to farm, and 2) adequate education so young people and other new entrants will have the know-how to farm. Today’s farmers must have an expanded technological skill set—for example, if they want to maintain their own farm equipment they need to have computer programming skills as well as be handy with a wrench and a screwdriver.


Access to agricultural education programs low now


Mercier, former Senate Agriculture Committee Chief Economist & Farm Journal Foundation Director of Policy and Advocacy, 15

[Stephanie, July 2015, AGree, “Food and Agricultural Education in the United States”, http://www.foodandagpolicy.org/sites/default/files/AGree_Food%20and%20Ag%20Ed%20in%20the%20US_0.pdf, p. 5-6, accessed 6-26-17, AFB]



The National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) estimates that 1 million students are currently enrolled in food and agricultural education programs around the country, taught by 12,000 agricultural educators at the secondary and community college level.20 In addition, there are growing numbers of teachers incorporating agriculture in their lesson plans in elementary and middle schools around the country, but outside of the formal agricultural education system. According to the Bureau of the Census, there were 24.9 million students enrolled in grades 7-12 in 2013,21 plus about 6.8 million students enrolled in community colleges, either full-time or part-time.22 In 2010-11, a survey by the U.S. Department of Education indicated that about 1.5 million students were dual-enrolled in high school and community college or college courses.23 Using these figures, it appears that formally enrolled food and agricultural education students make up about 3.3 percent of the total enrollment for secondary and community college educational institutions in the United States. As a point of comparison, about 2.1 percent of individuals in the U.S. population in 2012 lived in farm households.24

Most formal food and agricultural education programs are found in small towns and rural areas across the country. There have been a few breakthroughs in recent decades, however, that are bringing these opportunities to young people in urban settings. One of the earliest efforts was in 1985, when the Chicago Public School District opened the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences.25 Now in its 20th year, the school draws students from all over the city, who apply for admission based on results from a standardized aptitude test. The agricultural program includes courses in animal science, agricultural mechanics, food sciences, horticultural and landscape design, and agricultural finance. The school’s total enrollment in 2014-15 was 696 students in 9th through 12th grade. It should be noted that there are also programs conducted in charter schools and private secondary schools that focus on agriculture.

Food and Agricultural Learning Opportunities



Many of these secondary school and community college students are also involved outside of school hours in programs and activities associated with either 4-H clubs or Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapters (described further below), which provide them with further opportunities to expand their knowledge and experience related to agriculture. These organizations have been around for many decades and have been viewed as complementary to formal in-school food and agricultural education programs almost since they were established. The 4-H Youth Development Program is part of USDA’s Cooperative Extension Service and focuses primarily on out-of-school activities (though it does have some in-school programs) for students aged 5 to 19, while FFA chapters run in tight conjunction with food and agricultural education programs in local school districts, with activities conducted both within and outside of school hours.

Both organizations seek to develop agricultural and leadership skills among young people, but the FFA’s efforts are closely linked to food and agricultural education programs. Students in school districts without formal food and agricultural education programs cannot join FFA (although some districts allow students from neighboring districts to take courses and engage in FFA across district lines). Many 4-H members do not pursue formal food and agricultural education study in their schools, making this one distinction between the two programs. These FFA activities are funded primarily from corporate and foundation sources at the national level, while 4-H is funded through a variety of public (both state and USDA) and private sources. There are other large (i.e., millions of participants) out-of-school programs such as Boy and Girl Scouts, the YMCA, and Boys and Girls Clubs of America that do not have strong food and agriculture roots but deliver educational programs, some of them focused on healthy lifestyles and nutrition.


Literacy programs work, but need expansion


Mercier, former Senate Agriculture Committee Chief Economist & Farm Journal Foundation Director of Policy and Advocacy, 15

[Stephanie, July 2015, AGree, “Food and Agricultural Education in the United States”, http://www.foodandagpolicy.org/sites/default/files/AGree_Food%20and%20Ag%20Ed%20in%20the%20US_0.pdf, p. 13, accessed 6-26-17, AFB]

In terms of how the system works in terms of agricultural literacy of the general population, an early study on agricultural literacy found that only 30 percent of more than 2,000 Kansas students surveyed in 1986 displayed good knowledge of agriculture.65 A 2013 article in the Journal of Agricultural Education provided a synthesis of recent research into the issue of agricultural literacy.66 Of 49 studies identified within relevant academic journals over a 23-year period (1988- 2011), 10 surveyed teacher populations, 33 surveyed student populations, and 6 surveyed non-teaching adult populations. Of the total universe of studies identified, 23 actually sought to evaluate the agricultural literacy of the target population. Results were mixed—six studies found their participant groups to be agriculturally literate, ten studies found their survey groups to have some knowledge of agriculture, and the remaining six found their participant groups to be agriculturally illiterate. In a separate category, 19 studies tested the effectiveness of literacy programs. These studies generally found that agricultural literacy programs are successful in increasing knowledge of agriculture to targeted populations, but existing programs’ reach are limited. One shortcoming of the synthesis was that the authors made no attempt to evaluate whether the definition of agricultural literacy used in the various studies cited was applied consistently or not. There were no studies linking agricultural education and student matriculation into food and agriculture careers.

Agricultural education deprioritized now at elementary level


Mercier, former Senate Agriculture Committee Chief Economist & Farm Journal Foundation Director of Policy and Advocacy, 15

[Stephanie, July 2015, AGree, “Food and Agricultural Education in the United States”, http://www.foodandagpolicy.org/sites/default/files/AGree_Food%20and%20Ag%20Ed%20in%20the%20US_0.pdf, p. 7-8, accessed 6-26-17, AFB]

Today, at the elementary school level, there are relatively few in-school food and agricultural education programs being delivered, as teachers in public elementary schools tend to focus on subject areas covered in state standards and testing. To the extent that younger students are exposed to agricultural and food information, it is often taught in the context of science education, for example as part of biology lessons (e.g., a classroom garden). A 2007 survey of elementary and junior high teachers in eight Illinois counties found that some teachers did not integrate agriculture in their classrooms because they did not view it as appropriate for their situation, because it took time away from preparing students for state proficiency tests, or they did not have access to good instructional resources on the subject.36 Of those who did attempt to incorporate agriculture in their teaching, they cited ‘connectedness’ and ‘authenticity’ as key themes for that decision. Access to better curricula resources and agricultural-related projects and activities were concerns of these teachers as well. This was a small study, but it highlights a number of issues teachers face integrating food and agriculture topics into existing curricula.

Agriculture in the Classroom

The concept of Agriculture in the Classroom was pioneered by an Illinois teacher in 1977, who developed a program to teach students about agriculture’s role in the U.S. economy, and the concept spread quickly to other states.37 In 1981, the widespread interest in this effort prompted the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to invite representatives of farm groups and educators to Washington, DC, to discuss agricultural literacy. Out of that initial meeting, a task force was formed, which conferred and recommended that USDA serve as the coordinator for a national classroom agricultural literacy effort—hence, the birth of the national Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) initiative. Each state sets up its own organization, which then addresses agricultural education in its own way—some set up all-volunteer networks, some chose the non-profit route, others hired full-time personnel or assigned state employees to support AITC efforts. In 2010, it was estimated based on a survey of programs in 35 states that nearly 3.9 million students, primarily in elementary schools nationwide, were reached with AITC programs or curriculum during the previous year, either directly by AITC staff or indirectly through teachers trained through AITC programs.38 That amounted to about 12 percent of all students enrolled in elementary and middle schools in that year.39

More Teacher Training Needed Now



Understanding philosophy of the agricultural programs key for prepared agriculture teachers


Rubenstein, University of Georgia College of Agricultural & and environmental Sciences Assistant Professor of Agricultural Leadership education and communication, et al, 16

(E.D., N.W. Conner, University of Nebraska-Lincoln assistant professor Agricultural Leadership education and communication, S.D. Hurst, Agriculture Teacher Osceola Middle School, and A.C. Thoron, University of Florida Institute of food and Agricultural studies Assistant Professor of Agricultural Education and Communication, September 2016, North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Journal, “A Philosophical Examination of School-based Agricultural Education and NBC's Education Nation.” ProQuest, Volume 60, Issue 3, Accessed 6/30/17, GDI - JMo)

Today, over 800,000 students participate in School Based Agricultural Education (SBAE) throughout all 50 states and three territories (The Council, 2012). The SBAE mission of "prepare[ing] students for successful careers and a lifetime of informed choices in the global agriculture, food, fiber and natural resources systems" is still producing successful students today (The Council, 2012, para. 3). SBAE has been primarily concerned with preparing students for agricultural careers and advanced education (Newcomb et al., 2004; Phipps et al., 2008), which has been done through the use of the three-circle model of classroom instruction, SAE programs and the National FFA Organization (Newcomb et al., 2004; Phipps et al., 2008). With this being known of agricultural education and Education Nation, it is vital for agricultural education teacher preparation programs to understand the philosophical similarities between these two programs in order to best prepare preservice agricultural education teachers.

Ag Worker Shortage Now



Shortage of ag specialists now – ag is losing out to core STEM


Thoron et al., University of Florida Agriculture Education and Communication Assistance Professor, 16

[Andrew, 2016, American Association for Agricultural Education, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION NATIONAL RESEARCH AGENDA 2016-2020, http://aaaeonline.org/resources/Documents/AAAE_National_Research_Agenda_2016-2020.pdf, page 42, Date accessed 6-28-17, RK]

Currently, a shortage of scientists for agricultural positions exists throughout the United States (U.S.). Employment data from Employment Opportunities for College Graduates in the U.S. Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resources System (CSREES, 2005) projected a deficit of nearly 3,000 agricultural graduates per year for 2005- 2010. The latest report projecting career opportunities for 2010-2015 (NIFA, 2010) projected an even greater deficit. Compounding the issue of recruiting and preparing qualified graduates to enter careers in agricultural sciences is the increasing demand for workers with scientific expertise by numerous career areas. Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) occupations are critical to the continued economic competitiveness of the U.S. (Carnevale, Smith, & Melton, 2011). The demand for traditional STEM workers will continue to grow.

Opportunities for educators, industry leaders, and communicators to expose potential employees to the benefits of and skills used in the diverse array of agricultural careers are great, and occur across a broad timeline during an individual’s life, both before and after entering the adult workforce. While many colleges of agriculture have experienced an increase in student enrollment, fewer students maintain their agricultural focus through successful placement in an agriculturally based scientific position upon graduation (Dyer, Lacey, & Osborne, 1996).


There is a rising demand of jobs in the ag industry – agricultural education is key


Ewing, Penn State Agricultural Economics Professor, 16

[John, December 2016, The Agricultural Education Magazine, “Preparing our Future Workforce through Agricultural Education”, http://www.naae.org/profdevelopment/magazine/current_issue/Nov_Dec_2016.pdf, pg. 2, accessed: 6/28/17, SK]



The success of communities, states, and the nation rely on the workforce that is available to meet the needs of employers. The individuals that make up the work- force need to be prepared with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that are needed at that time. In a time where we are being challenged to produce enough food and fiber to provide for an ever growing population, an emphasis needs to be placed on educating the workforce for agricultural careers.

Employees ranging from agribusiness personnel to agricultural mechanic technicians to agronomists (among others) are needed to meet the rising production, processing, and sales needs of the agricultural industry. These employees must be trained to enter the workforce so the food and fiber needs of our nation and world are met. These are just a few examples of the career opportunities awaiting our students. We must educate students to compete in a global market, and this should be- gin in the secondary agricultural education program.

Agriculture education is critical to ensure food security


Lufkin et al, National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity Executive Director, 9

[Mimi, March 2009, Pennsylvania Department of Education, “Vision for Pennsylvania Agricultural Education,” http://www.education.pa.gov/Documents/K-12/Career%20and%20Technical%20Education/Teacher%20Resources/Agricultural%20Education/A%20Handbooks%20for%20Program%20Planning%20and%20Curriculum%20Development.pdf, p. vii, 6/28/17, KF]

Food and fiber production requires only 2% of the nation's workforce. However, more than 20% of the workforce is employed somewhere in the food and fiber system including plant and animal science, food production, supply, processing, transportation, finance, economics, marketing, leadership, public policy, regulation, human nutrition, recreation, trade, environmental stewardship, agricultural research, natural resource conservation and education. Agricultural education must be responsive to the needs of this broad industry. Within the next 35-40 years, world demand for food will double. To leverage future opportunities and meet responsibilities associated with increased population and purchasing power in developing countries, our nation needs a highly-talented cadre of professionals, technicians and skilled workers in the food system to be competitive. Since the National Research Council released "Understanding Agriculture - New Directions for Education" in 1988, the agricultural education community has been looking to the future through a process of strategic planning activities at the national level.

The farm labor crisis is an issue now


Nassif, Western Growers president & CEO, 11

[Tom, 10/4/11, Western Growers, “Hearing on America’s Agricultural Labor Crisis: Enacting a Practical Solution”, https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/11-10-4NassifTestimony.pdf, p. 2, accessed: 7/1/17, KW]



Not only is agriculture’s role in maintaining a safe and secure food supply vital to our economic recovery, it is critical to the strength of rural America. Western Growers members and their employees are members of the very communities in which they grow, pack, and sell products. In 2009, when the California water crisis forced us to fallow 500,000 acres in the Central Valley, thousands of farms jobs were lost, and rural nonfarm businesses supported by these jobs suffered. Some communities realized unemployment levels of 40 percent.

Today, I’m here to talk about another crisis, our labor crisis. This is not a new challenge for agriculture. We’ve been working to secure a legal workforce for more than 15 years. But in the face of no immigration reform, a diminishing labor supply, threats due to I-9 audits and ICE raids, and now E-Verify legislation emerging at the state and the federal levels, it is clear that U.S. agriculture will be decimated without a workable mechanism Page 3 of 11 to hire the labor we need.


An ag educated workforce is key to meet growing demand


Lufkin, et al., National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity Executive Director, 9

[Mimi, March 2009, Pennsylvania Department of Education, “Vision for Pennsylvania Agricultural Education,” http://www.education.pa.gov/Documents/K-12/Career%20and%20Technical%20Education/Teacher%20Resources/Agricultural%20Education/A%20Handbooks%20for%20Program%20Planning%20and%20Curriculum%20Development.pdf, p. vii, accessed: 6/28/17, SK]


Food and fiber production requires only 2% of the nation's workforce. However, more than 20% of the workforce is employed somewhere in the food and fiber system including plant and animal science, food production, supply, processing, transportation, finance, economics, marketing, leadership, public policy, regulation, human nutrition, recreation, trade, environmental stewardship, agricultural research, natural resource conservation and education. Agricultural education must be responsive to the needs of this broad industry. Within the next 35-40 years, world demand for food will double. To leverage future opportunities and meet responsibilities associated with increased population and purchasing power in developing countries, our nation needs a highly-talented cadre of professionals, technicians and skilled workers in the food system to be competitive.

Specialist Shortage Now



Significant shortage of students with agriculture training coming now – plant genetics, climate, and food safety and security will face major shortages of specialists


Mercier, former Senate Agriculture Committee Chief Economist & Farm Journal Foundation Director of Policy and Advocacy, 15

[Stephanie, July 2015, AGree, “Food and Agricultural Education in the United States”, http://www.foodandagpolicy.org/sites/default/files/AGree_Food%20and%20Ag%20Ed%20in%20the%20US_0.pdf, p. 2, accessed 6-26-17, AFB]



The need to facilitate the creation of a continuing supply of students with training to go into the food and agricultural sector applies not only to crop and livestock production, but also related occupations that serve the businesses in the agricultural supply chain and agricultural and food science disciplines. A 2015 study commissioned by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) found that the U.S. economy will generate more than 57,900 openings for individuals with college degrees in food, renewable energy, and environmental specialties every year between 2015 and 2020.2 The study found that there would be a 41 percent shortfall of U.S. graduates in those fields to meet the demand, especially graduates to work as plant geneticists and plant breeders, climate change analysts, and food safety and security specialists.

Research Inadequate Now



Systematic research data on effectiveness lacking now


Mercier, former Senate Agriculture Committee Chief Economist & Farm Journal Foundation Director of Policy and Advocacy, 15

[Stephanie, July 2015, AGree, “Food and Agricultural Education in the United States”, http://www.foodandagpolicy.org/sites/default/files/AGree_Food%20and%20Ag%20Ed%20in%20the%20US_0.pdf, p. 12-13, accessed 6-26-17, AFB]

Academic Evaluation of Agricultural Education Effectiveness

For professionals in the agricultural education field, it appears that they sometimes find it difficult to decide if they should be classified as an agricultural discipline or an educational one. In part due to the lack of survey or longitudinal data about agricultural education programs at the national or state level, the research into the effectiveness of agricultural education efforts appears to be programmatically and geographically driven. There are a plethora of studies with small sample sizes that examine only a single aspect of the system, such as trying to define the components of a successful SAE 62 or using a cheeseburger in an elementary school classroom setting to test students’ understanding of the U.S. food system (a model used in three states).63 What is not readily available is any overarching analysis of the effectiveness of components of the system (e.g., elementary education) let alone the entire agricultural education system.



There is a considerable body of research about the impact of farm to school activities on school children’s food preferences and knowledge about gardening and healthy eating habits resulting from participation in such programs, but these results do not necessarily apply to the entire food and agricultural education system.64

As of this writing, the Career and Technical Education programs just completed their review of their standards for agriculture, food and natural resources education (AFNR) to ensure that they are as relevant to future careers in food and agriculture as possible. Once disseminated and put in place, these standards should lend clarity and direction to the development of curriculum and over time, it should be easier to evaluate the effectiveness of CTE programs.


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