11 Steps to Starting an Agricultural Education Program in Your School
According to The National FFA Organization (formerly Future Farmers of America), creating a proposal and getting started is easier than you think.
By Colleen Supan, Urban Farm Managing Editor
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto/Thinkstock
With a little motivation and determination, you too can start an agricultural-education program in your high school.
1. Assess your community’s needs.
- Why does your community need an agricultural education program?
- What will your program’s philosophy be?
- How much interest is there in your projected program?
To find out why your community needs an agricultural education program, look at other schools’ and programs’ descriptions of their programs and talk to their teachers and program directors. The more information you have regarding how the program will help the community, the better start you will have.
Your goals will reflect your program’s philosophy. What will students achieve and what experiences will they have? Here is an example of a program philosophy.
Surveys are an excellent way to get some real numbers on how much interest there is in an agricultural education program. Remember, the program is for the community, so a successful program rides on whether the people involved actually want it.
2. What happens after students finish the program?
- What careers will be available?
- Are the jobs local or national?
- Is class credit available to local colleges?
Find out through the FFA what careers are available, and where, after graduation by visiting here.
3. Gain community support.
- Which community members have an interest?
- Survey local businesses.
It’s as easy as a few internet searches or a drive around your town or city to find out which businesses are involved in environmental services, food processing, animal health service, greenhouse and landscaping services, and humanitarian and charity services. These local businesses can be involved by donating money or items that can help you get the ball rolling.
4. Feel out the local political climate.
- Who makes the decisions in your community?
- How do you approach them?
Before you meet your community leaders, have an action plan to discuss with them. Identify any major challenges you might come across and keep trying to work them out.
5. Make clear state-specific procedures.
- Contact your state’s department of agricultural education here.
One of the most important things you need to do is contact the state’s department of agricultural education to find out what exactly what kinds of programs you can and can’t have. The last thing you want to do is have everything prepared, only to find out you’re breaking a rule in one area or another. This is no time to assume, so make sure your facts are straight.
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