Agriscience Education Leadership Program
What Is The Agriscience Education Leadership Program?
The Agriscience Education Leadership Program further develops agriscience teachers and administrators' ability to improve their agriscience programs and refine their leadership capabilities in order to provide quality agricultural education for students. Additionally, this program allows participants to expand their curriculum to include all components of agriculture, which will help lay a strong foundation that students can build on.
What Is The Need For This Program?
Many of Florida's agriscience teachers often leave the classroom to work in business and industry, ultimately leaving Florida with a constant shortage of instructors in this field of study. Additionally, until the 2001 Florida Legislature added language to Chapter 232.246(1), F.S., that included Agriscience Foundations I, the core course in secondary Agriscience and Natural Resources programs, to count as one of the required science credits needed to graduate, student participation in agriscience programs had significantly decreased. Prior to this language being added, a student would need three agriscience related courses in order to receive one science credit. In an effort to make this field of instruction more desirable to teachers and to encourage more students to take the agriscience courses offered in their schools, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Department of Education, and the agriculture industry developed this training program.
How Are Participants Selected?Each school district superintendent is asked to nominate an agriscience teacher or curriculum administrator with five years of experience from their county to participate. The nominees must submit completed applications, which are reviewed by the selection committee. The selection committee then chooses 20 participants based on their application information and essay answers.
What Does The Program Consist Of?
The participants travel six times throughout the year to various areas of the state. The first meeting takes place in Tallahassee where the participants spend four days observing and learning about the various programs within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The participants travel back to Tallahassee in March when the Legislature is in session. This trip concentrates primarily on the various functions of government, both the legislative and executive branch. Participants attend a Cabinet meeting, meet with various legislators and observe the members when they are in session. Other meeting areas around the state include the Panhandle, Central Florida, and South Florida.
The Panhandle trip includes a complete overview of a working forest as the participants spend one day touring the Blackwater State Forest. This trip also includes meeting with Suwannee River Water Management District, Baker Farm Supply, Jay Research and Education Center, observing cotton modules, ginning, grading, shipping and storage and peanut buying, sampling, grading, storage, and shipping.
The South Florida trip includes a complete overview of the sugar industry, including best management practices from the South Florida Water Management, a citrus processing and gift basket plant, and a tour of Roth Farms where Rick Roth gives an overview of the winter crops that are produced in South Florida. In addition to the tours, Farm Bureau members speak on milk pricing, growing caladiums, sod farm production and what South Florida means to the agriculture industry.
The two Central Florida trips include tours of strawberry fields and processing plants, food irradiation plant, dairies, citrus processing plants and a Publix Super Market Warehouse. Participants receive first hand knowledge about how strawberries are produced, why irradiation is so important to today's society, best management practices by dairies, citrus and its important role in Florida agriculture and Florida's economy and what happens to food once it is taken out of the field and becomes ready for public consumption. The participants also toured the horticulture industry including tissue culture and a foliage nursery.
In addition to meeting and learning about the industry, during the evening hours participants work on group projects that benefit other teachers and their students and are also taught strong leadership skills from various speakers.
Comments From Participants"It is important for Agriscience Educators to be able to relay the most current information and trends in agriculture to the students. We hope the things we learn about agriculture and our Florida environment will make our students better consumers and will encourage them to consider pursuing a career in agriculture."
-- Susan Kelly
"Because of your efforts, our teachers will be prepared to help our students meet the exciting challenges in the future of agriculture."
-- Daniel Cox
"I stand tall and proud in my profession, for I know I am reaching the young people of today through agriculture. They see a true meaning and relevance to their education. Programs such as the Leadership Committee go a long way to help educators be better prepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow. I look forward to meeting and exceeding those expectations with you."
-- Frederick Ahrens
"I know I will benefit from the information gained and intend to transfer your enthusiasm and knowledge to better prepare my students for their future. In addition hopefully we will be able to promote agriculture education and the impact that agriculture has on our economy and quality of life."
-- Lynn Nobles
"We as Agriculture teachers many times feel we are on our own in our mission to educate and excite young minds to the important field we are in, but after our visit I know I came home feeling much more support than ever before. I am excited about this program "
-- Beth Guevara
"I just wanted to let you know how much I learned from the things we saw and experienced. Please do all you can to keep this program so my fellow educators can grow from it also."
-- Ben Randolph
"This has made a tremendous impact on me and the others in the program. The experiences that I have been able to take back to my classroom and share with my students have been most rewarding."
-- Lori Albritton
"The experiences and opportunities will be remembered and valued for a lifetime."
-- Linda Wilson