Teach Ag in Your State: North Carolina
Allison Jennings, an agriculture teacher and FFA advisor from Rosewood High School in North Carolina, is helping students interested in agriculture education set up college visits. By showing students that their interests in agriculture can lead to a career, those visits are increasing the number of students who graduate from Rosewood and pursue an undergraduate degree in agricultural education.
What's your current job at Rosewood? How many students do you work with?
I am the agriculture teacher/FFA Advisor in a single teacher department, with coursework in animal science, horticulture, ag mechanics, and agriscience. I generally teach about 100 students in a school year.
Is agricultural education something that interests a lot of students at Rosewood? How do you find the students who are interested?
I do think agriculture education interests many of the students. I currently have seven past students who are pursuing an ag ed major in college. Our school is less than an hour from two colleges/universities that have agricultural education departments, so I often host college students who are doing class observations or completing their student teaching. Having these college students in my classroom often makes easy classroom conversation on how great ag ed is and leads to lots of student interest.
Why did you decide to start coordinating college visits specifically for agriculture education?
It was easy to coordinate college visits because of my continued relationships with my own college professors and the current agricultural education majors I was hosting in my classroom. The visits seemed like the next logical step to recruiting future Agriculture teachers and there were events on the campuses that allowed my group to piggyback off of other major events.
How do you coordinate the visits for the students? Are there specific schools that students often want to visit?
The visits are coordinated through the colleges' ag ed clubs or CFFA programs. There are currently 3 colleges in North Carolina with ag ed programs and two of those are within an hour of our school. Naturally, students are interested in the colleges that are close, North Carolina State University and Mount Olive College.
Have the college visits been successful? Have you seen an increase in students wanting to pursue degrees in ag education?
I do believe the college visits have been successful. The visits show students that a 4-year degree in a growing agricultural field is accessible. Students pursuing degrees in agricultural education has definitely increased since I first started teaching, but it can also be hit or miss at times. During the visits, some of my students will find other interests while visiting the colleges and talking with the college advisors.
What are your future plans or goals for students interested in agriculture education?
I tend to continue relationships and ongoing communication with students who major in agricultural education in college, which hopefully gives them a strong support system when they hit struggles. High school underclassmen with interests in agriculture education are encouraged to participate in our FFA Chapter's PALS program, public speaking events, and the school's Future Teachers of America chapter events. Our FFA is planning a school wide Future Teacher Day where students can apply to stand in for a teacher/administrator in the school for an entire day and will be responsible for lesson plans and activities for the entire day, with supervision of course.