As a member of a professional agricultural sorority, one would expect that a majority of its members had a positive experience in agricultural education at some point in their lives. Whether that’s in 4-H, FFA, or a combination of the two, agricultural education is vital to our sorority and to the world we live in. So today, in this blog post, I’m going to talk about five myths that it’s common to hear as an agricultural education student.
You won’t make any money as a teacher. This is a myth that you hear across all disciplines as a teacher, and for some it can be disheartening. First, it completely depends upon the state. In Kansas, the average starting salary for an Ag teacher fresh out of college with their teaching license and bachelor’s degree is $43,000, and that number has been increasing over the past few years. That’s also on a nine- or ten-month contract, leaving two-three months additional for other opportunities. Plus, some schools have other incentives to hire ag teachers, such as signing bonuses, housing stipends, and additional add-ons for coaching and FFA. Education is far more rewarding beyond the dollar sign; you enter education to make a difference in lives.
Agricultural Education is dying. In the nineties, this was the belief of many people, including those in the profession. However, in Kansas alone, there have been five new programs start in the last year alone, and many programs are growing, adding a second or third instructor.
Agricultural Education is for farm kids. Sure, a lot of kids who are interested in the agricultural program at a school probably have some form of agricultural background, that is not always the case. There are more opportunities for all students within the agricultural education model, from supervised agricultural experience programs, to competitions within the FFA, the possibilities truly are endless.
Those who can’t do, teach. This one is the most infuriating for me personally, as an educator, because not everyone has the personality, the tenacity, and the patience to become an educator. While working in industry is a great path, the benefits of being an agricultural education student is that if I didn’t want to teach, there are opportunities outside of the classroom, in industry, in extension, and working for other organizations, such as non-profits in agriculture.
It’s the easiest major and the easiest job. Every major has it’s challenges, and I’m sure that the pre-vet majors or the ag econ majors or the horticulture majors don’t want to put together lesson plans and curriculum that align with state standards or instruct freshman how to properly start an oxy-acetylene torch, just as I don’t want to work through genetics homework or figure out futures markets. Being an Ag Ed student and a future educator, however, I have the chance to learn from all disciplines within agriculture, so that I am a well-rounded, highly skilled educator.
Agricultural education is a growing profession and the need for skilled educators is substantial. If you’re reading this and you’re interested in agricultural education as a career, don’t be discouraged by the common myths you might here; it’s a rewarding major that will lead to an even more rewarding career.