Although our local school districts enjoy strong Ag education programs, a critical shortage of college graduates with agriculture education degrees looms in the not-too-distant future, according to the Illinois Committee of Agricultural Education (ICAE). Meeting with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) earlier this month, the ICAE discussed several ideas to hopefully address this pending crisis.
Top on the agenda of this discussion was obtaining the IBSE’s support for state funding of agriculture education, which Governor Rauner’s proposed budget has eliminated. Another issue is the increasing requirement for high school agriculture teachers to teach middle school agriculture classes, creating licensing issues. The ICAE hopes that agriculture teaching licenses could be changed to teach more grade levels, such as licenses for teaching music, art and physical education. Finally, the ICAE and ISBE talked about designating agriculture education as a high-need Illinois field, thus providing federal incentives for college students to obtain agriculture education degrees.
The Illinois agriculture education programs are currently strong, earning praise from state officials and some even earning national recognition. We are fortunate to have strong Ag education programs in our own backyard. Let’s hope it stays that way.