TX Ag Ed Meeting of the Minds

Prairie View, TX—Focus and change. Both can be a noun or a verb and separately can describe a current status or inspire thoughts of a future state of being. However, the two words combined can hold a historical significance as to what occurred Friday, February 22, 2013. It was the first time, Barney McClure, Aaron Alejandro, Tom Maynard and Ron Whitson, four of the top agriculture directors in Texas convened at the same place. And Prairie View A&M University was the hub to bring them all together in an historic meeting to strengthen and enhance agricultural education programs to promote postsecondary and career pathways in an interagency commitment for advancing agricultural education.

photo courtesy: Paul Johnson

Horace Hodge, Alton B. Johnson, Barney McClure, Tom Maynard, Ron Whitson and Aaron Alejandro

Since the beginning of time, agriculture has been the backbone of civilization; therefore agricultural education has a dynamic impact to the future prosperity of America. With agriculture, societies increase the yield of land, produce excess food, start a market and trade and survive. According to Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Debbie Stabenow, 16 million jobs are supported by agriculture and is one of a few industries leading the economic recovery of this country. Therefore, it is imperative to produce agricultural teachers who have the ability to deliver instruction to diverse audiences in diverse settings. Thus, the programs scope should have a global perspective.

As executive directors McClure of the Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association of Texas and Maynard of Future Farmers of America Association emphasized the importance of Prairie View becoming the pipeline to transform the lack of minority agriculture teachers and build an accountability system that recognizes unfair treatment and develop a support system needed for success.

Many of the agriculture teachers in the audience concluded that agriculture educators faced unique challenges but Prairie View A&M University has the ability to tap into unique strengths within a tight knit community. However, the curriculum can not be backwards-looking to preserve the past but must focus on integrated instruction of mathematics and sciences to meet the divergent challenges of the future.

Teaching people to be lifelong learners and to stay current on industry practices evaluate science and information for themselves and study how leadership works. For instance, Future Farmers of America Foundation director believes that it is important to have a college FFA chapter for students to feed into because the challenge becomes servicing new interests and the needs of a traditional base. His perception correlates with the statewide coordinator of Texas Educators Association, Whitson’s theory of hands on model. Wherefore, the goal is to make young people better evaluators and enhance their problem-solving skills and FFA development is a flagship for college preparation, skills and training that will guide them back to the family farm and keep the knowledge generating.

Therefore, a curriculum for agriculture educators should envision the value and vitality of agriculture and natural resources in the role of advancing personal and global well-being. Hence, there should be a re-examination and refocus of agriculture literacy to recruit bright young people into the profession and provide a support system to help them become successful educators; then, agricultural education will become more important than ever.

By Staff Writer: Kelley A. Redmon


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