Since 1917 with the passage of the Smith-Hughes Act, federal and state legislation has provided leadership for the implementation and improvement of agricultural education programs. The foundation of any successful Agricultural Education program is based on three inseparable, equal, and interdependent components that include: Classroom Instruction, FFA leadership activities, and Supervised Agricultural Experience projects.
California Agricultural Education offers seven pathways:
- Agricultural Business
- Agricultural Mechanics
- Animal Science
- Forestry and Natural Resources
- Ornamental Horticulture
- Plant and Soil Science
During the 2015-16 school year over 80,000 students received training from Agricultural Education programs in comprehensive high schools and regional occupational programs and centers. The proportion of students participating in agricultural education programs has risen dramatically over the last decade.
At least 317 sites statewide serve students in grades nine through twelve, in addition to student enrolled in post-secondary agricultural education programs.
Benefits for Students
Foundation in the academic and technical skills necessary for career and personal success
Leadership and interpersonal skill development
Authentic assessment of knowledge, skills, and abilities through on-demand demonstrations and portfolios
Collaboration, articulation, and networking with all levels of delivery systems (elementary through post-secondary).
Supervised entrepreneurial and workplace learning experiences.
Linkages and partnerships with business and industry.
Professional development opportunities for teachers, administrators, and counselors.
Curriculum development based on performance and content standards
On-site technical assistance in programs
Administration of the Agricultural Vocational Incentive Grant Program
Coordination of section, region, and state level professional development workshops for agricultural education instructors.
Sponsorship of pre-service education workshops and sessions on the integration of academic and agricultural education, program certification system, and tech prep education in agriculture.
Sponsorship and coordination of region and state leadership activities associated with the FFA (Future Farmers of America).
Programs Supporting Agricultural Education
Over the past 28 years, two major federal and state programs have provided support for agricultural education programs: the Carl D. Perkins Vocational Education Act (1990) and the Agricultural Education Vocational Incentive Grant Program (California State Legislature, 1983).
The programs seek to accomplish four major purposes, as follows:
Enable LEA’s to improve the curriculum for students enrolled in agricultural education programs, through the development and implementation of: (a) an integrated academic and vocational curriculum; (b) curriculum that reflects work-place needs and instruction; and (c) support services for special populations.
Increase the competence of future and current high, middle grades, and ROC/P agricultural education instructors in developing and implementing a new integrated curriculum, student and program certification systems, technical preparation strategies, and effective instructional methodologies.
Promote the development and use of curriculum, instructional materials, and instructional strategies that prepare students in all aspects of the agricultural industry and foster critical thinking, problem-solving, leadership, and academic and technical skill attainment.
Increase linkages between secondary and post-secondary institutions offering agricultural education programs; academic and agricultural educators; and among agricultural educators, the agricultural industry, professional associations, and local communities.
The federal Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Act provides approximately $2 million dollars annually to support state and local agricultural education programs.
The California State Legislature implemented the Agricultural Education Incentive Grant Program in 1983. During the 2010-2011 school year, this program provided over $4,000,000 of funds to local programs in providing instructional materials and equipment needed for program improvement.