PHOENIX – Arizona has been facing a shortage for several years of agriculture teachers that has officials concerned about its lingering impact on the industry that helps feed the nation.
“Absolutely,” the state faces a shortage of qualified and certified agriculture teachers, maintains Dr. Robert Torres of the University of Arizona.
And Arizona isn’t alone in the problem, one that has existed for several years around the nation, said Torres, Neely Family Endowed professor and department head who is the president-elect of the American Association for Agricultural Education.
The shortage of quality agriculture teachers impacts agricultural education. Schools may be unable to expand or add desired programs and in some cases are forced to close existing programs. This is particularly true for smaller, rural schools that find it more difficult to attract teachers.
Or a school may experience a turnover of teachers that results in a lack of stability in a program and adversely impacts the quality of instruction agriculture students receive.
“Every time we fail to get a qualified, highly motivated person, it’s a critical issue,” said Torres. “It has a long-term effect on the program. It’s a multiplier effect … if we don’t have quality teachers in the classroom, it affects agricultural education and the ability to attract students to the agriculture career field and preparing them to function through that career.”
Others share his assessment of the challenge facing agricultural education and its worrisome impact on the industry.
Equally adamant about the shortage is Jeremy Plumb, a former agriculture teacher and FFA advisor who now…
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