Minnesota has been selected as one of 11 states to participate in the inaugural year of the State Teach Ag Results program, a component of the National Teach Ag Campaign aimed at addressing the shortage of agriculture teachers using a comprehensive framework based on the needs of each state.
Sarah Dornink, executive director of the Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council, said Minnesota is facing a large shortage of agricultural educators, just as other states across the U.S.
However, she said, the gap between supply and demand is not simply an indication of the number of individuals entering the profession. In Minnesota, the shortage is exacerbated by an increasing demand for high school agricultural education programs.
In recent years, student enrollment in agriculture, food, and natural resource classes has gone up. To accommodate heightened interest, many school districts are investing in the development of new programs. Additionally, some single-teacher programs have expanded with the addition of a second or third teacher, allowing for greater breadth and depth of agricultural courses.
"Being selected as a STAR participant is very exciting for our state and we look forward to continuing our efforts in recruiting and retaining agricultural educators," Dornink said. "The STAR program is a new and innovative tool to add to the collaborative work being done by Minnesota agricultural education organizations."
Minnesota's team will be comprised of representatives of MAELC, Minnesota Association of Agricultural Educators, Minnesota Department of Education, Minnesota FFA Alumni and Foundation, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and the University of Minnesota-Agricultural Education Program.
In 2012-2013, more than 20 programs across the U.S. closed due to the lack of teachers. It is estimated that nearly 100 agriculture teacher positions in the U.S. will go unfilled in 2014.
STAR program state teams will pilot new initiatives to recruit and retain agriculture teachers to help fulfill this shortage. They will be responsible for implementing proven strategies, tracking impact and reporting results of their plan to share with other states.
The 10 other states selected to participate in STAR are California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina and Oregon.
For information specific to Minnesota, contact Dornink at [email protected]