“In the history of ag education, in 70-80 years, there has always been a shortage of ag teachers,” said Jack Havens, Cal Poly Pomona’s liaison with the State Department of Education. Although the current economic environment and budget cuts have certainly had an impact, “I’d say every year those who really want jobs and are willing to move somewhere within California can find them,” said Mr. Havens who is responsible for making sure positions in Southern California are filled with qualified teachers. In California - where agriculture is the No. 1 industry - there are approximately 305 agriculture education departments and about 700 agriculture teachers at high schools and community colleges. In California, high school enrollments in agriculture education have been increasing at a steady pace and this is expected to continue.
Agricultural education programs at the secondary level are based on three components: classroom instruction, Future Farmers of America (FFA) leadership activities, and Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) Projects. Agriculture teachers of grades 9-12 serve as advisors for the local FFA* chapters at their schools, “giving advice based on what they know about students’ needs and aspirations for the future,” explained Dr. Kimberley Miller an alumna and a former high school agriculture education teacher who now coordinates the Agricultural Science/Agricultural Education programs at Cal Poly Pomona.
“Cal Poly Pomona’s credo of ‘learn-by-doing’ is very much exemplified in the College of Agriculture,” said Dr. Miller. “The courses I completed as an undergraduate, a credential candidate, and a master’s student, were very much hands-on and ‘go out and do’ types of courses. I enjoyed the diverse opportunities outside of required major courses that help an individual gain the knowledge desired in most any field of agriculture.” Angie Seaman completed student teaching two years ago and is currently the agricultural education instructor at Covina High School. “I cannot imagine pursuing any other career than being an agriculture science teacher and FFA advisor. Cal Poly Pomona is so lucky to have someone like Kim Miller in the Agriculture Education (Program). She is one of my mentors and I believe the Department, the College of Ag, and our careers will greatly benefit from her leadership.” Even if teaching is not your chosen career path, the Agricultural Science (AGS) major is still ideal for those who like variety.