Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has talked openly about the need to double funding for vocational education in schools so that kids have options to get training and skills for jobs, and not be pigeon-holed into a four-year college degree. When he addressed his own Ag Forum in January, and when he spoke to the Purdue University Ag Alumni Fish Fry crowd more recently, he sent the same message.
The Indiana Farm Bureau Policy Dispatch, issued every Friday to recap legislative activities, quoted Pence at the Ag Forum as saying he also wanted to see agriculture education taught in every school system in Indiana. That's a tall order since it's currently offered in about half the systems.
The rest of the legislative session may reveal if he can convince the rest of his party, which holds super majorities in both houses of the Indiana General Assembly, to go along with his plans and provide the backing it would take to work toward such a goal.
Meanwhile, students are learning skills in ag classrooms all across Indiana. Some still do traditional welding and ag mechanics, others work in school greenhouses and learn the science behind raising plants. But some of the techniques used to teach students today are different than previous years.
One observer watching an instructional session at an ag teachers in-service training questioned whether teaching students to understand the concepts of welding by butting two pieces of graham cracker together, and forming them together with icing, instead of using metal and a real welding rod, was instructional.
The same could be said about other techniques. The consensus seems to be that to teach the basics and techniques before actually teaching and allowing the student to learn the skill, there are innovative techniques that can be used today to get the message across. Not every school has enough welders even for pairs of students – all have access to graham crackers to help them first grasp the concept before practicing it for real.