Despite perceptions, Allen Talbert says most schools will find ag teachers by fall.
"We were down to a handful of schools still looking for teachers at last report," says Talbert, a teacher trainer at Purdue University. "More students who graduated this year decided to teach than we originally thought. There will also be more people with emergency workplace permits teaching than in past years.
"Demand for ag teachers is up. Several schools added another position. With seven retirements and some moving out of teaching, it created a supply and demand situation."
When the dust settles 2014 numbers won't be that much tighter than in past years, Talbert says. In 2012, some 53 positions were needed, with 14 moving between schools. Thirteen were filled by new Purdue graduates, 19 by licensed teachers from elsewhere and six by emergency-licensed people.
In 2013 the need was 40 teachers, with 19 moving between schools, 10 positions filled with new Purdue graduates, 16 by other licensed teachers and four by non-licensed people. The number of Purdue graduates filling positions from 2008 through 2011 were 10, 6, 10 and 8, respectively.
"We're close to where we were a year ago in terms of schools finding teachers," Talbert concludes. We have 11 who will be student teaching this fall. If most teach that will help. Then we'll settle back into most doing student teaching in the spring semester."
Talbert says student teaching has been historically done in the spring semester. However Purdue has been flexible, partly to help provide teachers as soon as possible. However, 11 student teaching in the fall is far more than in any other year. It's likely some of these will stay at the school where they student teach and fill an open position, particularly if the school is adding a second position to aid a veteran teacher.
This is the second in an ongoing series of articles about the ag teacher shortage. Look for a similar series in the magazine beginning with the August issue.