The National Association of Agricultural Educators, Inc.
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News & Views

Volume XLIII No. 3 February/March 2001

What in the World Does Integral Mean Anyway? Is FFA Optional?

(Submitted at the editor’s request by Bernie Staller of the
National FFA Organization and National FFA Foundation)

As all good agricultural education instructors know, agricultural education is a total educational program that involves three integral parts – classroom, SAE, and FFA. None of the three parts are optional! You, as a teacher, do not provide students the option to attend class! Why do some of us give students the option to be in FFA? When did we decide agricultural education was not an integral program?

I realize saying FFA and SAE and classroom are integral parts of agricultural education is easy. Making it happen in a local school is far more difficult. Eleven years of teaching experience allow me to empathize with you on this challenge.

One stumbling block is a clear concept of what "integral" means and how to share the concept with school administrators. Many of us have used the three overlapping circles to graphically depict the integral nature of agricultural education but even that is often confusing.

An alternative, developed by Tom Kapostasy, Director of Business and Information Services at National FFA, and being used by FFA staff can be seen in Figure 1 (shown on page 3). In one graphic, it lays out clearly both what we teach in agricultural education and how we teach in agricultural education. It is simple to explain and simple to understand. The color shading within the grid just indicates that differing levels of what we teach may be better suited to one type of teaching (i.e., classroom, SAE, FFA) than another, but note that some of all three are taught by all three (i.e., a truly integrated model).

Clearly, the graphic shows that if you remove FFA or classroom/laboratory or supervised experiential learning then your local program will not deliver the same level of quality. Good teachers know that the more integrated the local program, the more students will learn and retain – and, the more successful the local program!

It’s easy, when looking at this model, to see how local students who do not have an SAE or are not in FFA are not gaining the full benefit from the local program. This is not about student choice! It is about making sure we as teachers use every tool at our disposal to effectively teach! Since when did a student know more than you do about what they need? We as teachers must make "integral" happen locally if it is to happen at all. No one else can shoulder this responsibility for us. We are it! If we are just teaching "another class," how long can our local ag ed program survive? We cost more than most other "classes." Our facilities tend to be more expensive. Our summer or extended contracts make ag teachers more costly than "nine month teachers." Our classes in many cases are not required for graduation. Competing on just the "class" level is the death knell of local agricultural education programs.

Our real hope is to showcase why a totally integrated program of classroom/laboratory, experiential learning and FFA provides a superior educational model that is effective in teaching and "growing" young people – in keeping kids in school – in improving graduation rates – in (See Integral on page 3)


2000 NAAE Convention Highlights Located Throughout the Issue

Ideas Unlimited

NFRBMEA Communications

Pork Quality Assurance Materials

Dectomax Program Discontinued

Regional Updates

FFA Convention Site Selection

National Ag Day Celebration

Matt Schweer-Teacher Spotlight

Upper Division Scholarships

Mulcahy-Arizona Teacher of the Year

Margenthaler-Distinguished Service

PGS Update

Washington Beat

2000-01 NAAE Board and Alternate VPs

Dates and Events

NAAE Award Recipients

NAAE Award Recipients

NAAE Organizational Members

Animal Health Publications

NAAE Merchandise

NAAE Annual Report

Click here to view the annual report

Including NAAE award Winners, Sponsors, Organizational Members, and More!


February/March 2001
NAAE News & Views
Page 1