Professional development has been a part of agriculture education for over 90 years, and it’s only gotten better over time. This is largely thanks to Wisconsin’s agriculture educators and organizations, which devote their time and effort to providing top-notch training opportunities.
At the center of these organizations is Team Ag Ed. This is an informal group that consists of representatives from the FFA Center, the FFA Foundation, the Wisconsin Association of Agriculture Educators (WAAE), some FFA alumni, and DPI representation. All these individuals and organizations work to support agriculture education in Wisconsin. The group meets during the FFA student leadership conferences throughout the year to plan professional development opportunities.
One of these opportunities includes the line-up of eight DPI inservices offered throughout the state every fall. With past topics as wide ranging as diversity and inclusion, supervised agriculture experience (SAE for All), and biotechnology, it is no surprise that more than 85 percent of agriculture educators typically attend these inservices. Watch for upcoming dates, topics, and locations
Team Ag Ed has also had a hand in revising the SAE for All. While Perkins V is rolling out nationwide, Team Ag Ed has been methodically updating SAEs in keeping with a three-year strategic plan for the project. Materials include guides for both students and teachers, activities, and videos that are available year-round online.
Summer ushers in another season of professional development with the WAAE conference in late June. More than 70 workshops are offered annually. Some years ago, WAAE also provided the setting to train teachers on the inquiry-based teaching technique. Originally, agriculture teachers from Wisconsin were trained by the National Association of Agricultural Educator’s (NAAE’s) Agriscience Inquiry Institute, which is sponsored by DuPont. Those educators shared what they learned with more than 120 educators over a five-year period at the WAAE conference. WAAE has now expanded this training to include an agriscience symposium to encourage teachers who have the inquiry-based teacher training to work on extension projects.
No matter what direction you want to take your professional development in agriculture education, there are many rich opportunities to learn.
—Submitted by Jeff Hicken, Agriculture and Natural Resources Education Consultant, FFA State Advisor, Career and Technical Education, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction