KIMT News 3 – It’s a gap that one national program looks to bridge by bringing more Ag teachers to the classroom.
In the inaugural launch of the “State Teach Ag Results Program” or STAR, eleven states including Minnesota are addressing the shortage of teachers needed to meet the demand of students interested in Ag-related fields.
In the previous two school years over 20 programs closed from a lack of teachers and once this current school year is over, it’s estimated nearly 100 teaching positions will go unfilled.
“Our teachers are in high demand. They know agriculture and they also have all the communication soft skills and so the Ag industry is also interested in our students and our teachers. So trying to find which programs can help retain those teachers and recruit students is very important,” said Sarah Dornink, executive director with the Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council.
The STAR program is in still in the early stages. Organizers say they hope to spread the program across the country once they see positive results.
“They’re connecting finally to science in agriculture through STEM. Science, technology, engineering and math. It’s being really highlighted in the earlier education systems and students are finding that they can get that through agriculture,” said Dornink.
In Minnesota, currently one in five jobs is related to agriculture.
Ten other states were also selected to participate in the STAR program including California, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina and Oregon.