Back-to-school season is here
Future ag teachers at the Teach Ag Campaign booth during a state FFA convention
School is starting and teachers everywhere are heading back to class. This year, more ag teachers will be joining them, thanks in part to the National Teach Ag Campaign’s STAR program.
The State Teach Ag Results (STAR) program is a state-level effort that brings National Teach Ag Campaign leadership and state representatives together to develop and implement a plan to recruit and retain agriculture teachers in their state.
To participate, states must convene a team of agriculture leaders. STAR teams typically consist of an agriculture teacher’s association board member, a state ag ed director, and faculty, alumni and student representatives from universities offering agricultural education degrees.
“Before the STAR program, we did not have an organized effort to address our teacher shortage or promote our own profession. Now we are carrying out a clear plan and have received many positive comments and more students considering ag ed as a career. We cannot thank the STAR and Teach Ag sponsors enough for making this all possible,” says Pam Rowland, a member of Missouri’s STAR team.
While ag education degree programs are seeing increased enrollment, demand for qualified ag teachers continues to grow due to new and expanding ag programs and staff retirements. The STAR program is working hard to address that need. In 2014, there were 11 states participating in the program. By 2020, participation is expected to increase to 40 states.
“The CHS Foundation was the founding sponsor of the National Teach Ag Campaign in 2009, recognizing that something needed to be done to address the critical shortage of qualified ag educators,” says Nanci Lilja, CHS Foundation president. “We have been amazed by the results they have achieved in a relatively short time and are excited to see the STAR program expanding on that success to ensure that we have future generations of ag leaders.”
From 2015 to 2018, the number of ag education graduates that became teachers increased by 6 percent and ag teacher retention rates rose by 3.5 percent. However, with the number of high school agriculture programs increasing by more than 900 in the same time frame, there is still a lot of work to be done.
To learn more about the CHS Foundation’s initiatives and its partners, visit chsfoundation.org.