As the agricultural economy in the U.S. continues to expand at a swift pace, more youngsters are interested in it. However, there is a nationwide shortage of agricultural educators that could affect the farm industry in the coming years, something that the University of Missouri is trying to preemptively correct.
If one is not raised on a farm, it is not easy to just jump on a John Deere tractor or piece of farm equipment and simply begin farming. Agricultural education, which teaches these techniques and the business of running a farm, has witnessed a shortage of educators for the past 20 years and is expected to lose even more as many retire. Moreover, Ellen Thompson, the coordinator of Teach Ag, an organization that hopes to increase the number of teachers in the field, affirms that because of their increasing value, agricultural students are being grabbed up "before they go into the teaching profession."
The University of Missouri, however, is an exception to this trend: this year, nearly 100 students are pursuing degrees in agriculture, while more than 80 percent plan to teach. The department's chairwoman, Anna Ball, asserted that Missouri is a "fantastic ag-education state" that does "things right."
Terry Heiman, director of the state's agricultural education programs for both elementary and secondary schools, contends that "there's always room for the new graduate" in the teaching field as there are many vacancies every year. By becoming an agricultural educator, students are enhancing their chances of getting a job after graduation and educating the future farmers of America.