National Teach Ag Day
Did you know September 19th is National Teach Ag Day?
Agricultural education has a long history in the United States. For the majority of our nation’s history, agricultural knowledge and skills have been passed down through the generations. However, as agricultural technology and practices advanced and as Americans became more removed from production agriculture, the need to develop formal agricultural education programs was recognized.
Agricultural education is one of the many subject areas in Career & Technical Education. While agricultural science is just one of the seven CTE subject areas iCEV caters to, the early iCEV videos and instructional materials were specifically designed for agricultural science courses. In fact, many iCEV team members attribute their personal and career success to their time in agricultural science classes, and several iCEV curriculum consultants are former agricultural science teachers. Some team members were even raised by agricultural science teachers.
To celebrate National Teach Ag Day, this post will take you on a journey from where agricultural education began, to where it is now.
1785- Early Beginnings
The Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture, one of the first organized groups in the newly formed United States of America, was created to promote agriculture and disseminate new agricultural practices and methods. The society is still active today, making it the oldest agricultural organization in the U.S.
1862- The Morrill Act Brings Agricultural Education to Colleges
The Land-Grant College Act of 1862, commonly known as the first Morrill Act, granted land parcels to states to establish colleges specializing in agriculture and mechanics. These schools, known as “A&M” colleges, taught courses focused on agriculture, veterinary medicine and engineering. In total, 69 colleges were founded as a result of the Morrill Act. While the schools established by the Morrill Act offer a broader course list today, they still have programs dedicated to agricultural education and science. Many of these colleges have renowned agricultural education programs designed to prepare the next generation of agricultural science teachers.
1917- The Smith-Hughes Act Opens Doors for Vocational Agriculture
The Smith-Hughes Act, formally known as the National Vocational Education Act, provided funding for states to create vocational education programs at the high school level. These programs were focused on agriculture, mechanics and home economics. This act built the foundation for the Career & Technical Education system we have today and laid the groundwork for the Strengthening Career & Education for the 21st Century Act, also known as Perkins V. Under Perkins V, the federal government invests $1.2 billion annually to Career & Technical Education.
1926- Agricultural Students Begin to Form Organized Groups
The first National Congress of Vocational Agriculture Students gathered for a national livestock judging contest at the American Royal Livestock and Horse Show. This organization served as an inspiration for the Future Farmers of America.
1928- The National FFA Organization is Founded
The Future Farmers of America, known today as FFA, was formally established. Thirty-three delegates from 18 states attended the first National FFA Convention. Today, FFA is the largest CTE student organization. As of 2019, there are 8,612 FFA chapters with more than 700,170 members across the country, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
1963- Vocational Education Expands to Meet Students Needs
The National Vocational Education Act broadened the scope of the Smith-Hughes Act. This act incorporated career counseling and employment training, along with expanding the age groups eligible to enroll in agricultural education classes and providing for the needs of those in special population groups.
Formalized agricultural education has come a long way since its early beginnings in 1785. Today, there are more than one million middle and high school students in agricultural science courses and those courses are taught by more than 11,000 agricultural science teachers. While agricultural education was once singularly focused on crop and animal production, today’s agricultural science teachers offer a wide range of courses and subjects, including floral design, food processing, and wildlife management.
Agricultural science teachers are an important part of Career & Technical Education. Using a variety of instructional methods and practices, agricultural science teachers are preparing the next generation for a variety of careers and industries. While not every student who enrolls in an agricultural science class will pursue an agricultural career, the knowledge, skills and confidence students can gain from agricultural science courses will benefit them throughout their personal and professional lives.
Team iCEV wants to say thank you to agricultural science teachers for your passion and dedication to your students and your field. We are proud to know and work with incredible teachers who are making a difference in the lives of their students and all those around them.
Don’t forget to tell the agricultural science teachers in your life Happy Teach Ag Day!
Visit the National Association of Agricultural Educators to learn more.