The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture has been awarded a $300,000 grant to create instructional resources and develop a self-sustaining professional development program — the UT Agribusiness Academy — for current Tennessee secondary agriculture teachers. The project team, comprised of faculty from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications, will develop e-learning content modules that follow course standards of the secondary Tennessee agribusiness program of study.
According to a recent study, growth in the agricultural job market is currently outpacing new graduates with agricultural-related degrees, and almost half of these jobs are in agribusiness. “These job market trends indicate a potential shortfall of graduates with agribusiness training,” said project director Chris Boyer. “Recognizing K-12 education as a pipeline to agricultural careers, such as agribusiness, is critical to address this shortage.
The long-term goal for the UT Agribusiness Academy is to increase the number of Tennessee secondary students exposed to agribusiness content and career opportunities, hopefully resulting in increased enrollment in postsecondary agribusiness programs and an increased number of students equipped to enter the growing agribusiness workforce.
Each summer, for the next three years, 60 Tennessee secondary agriculture teachers will participate in the online modules, focusing on one of the courses in the Tennessee agribusiness program of study. The project funds opportunities for teachers to interact one-on-one with the project team to ensure content is relevant and communicated effectively. The project is funded by a grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and will include an innovative combination of professional development components designed to bolster curricular success. Upon project completion, the UT Agri-business Academy will be made publicly available to every secondary teacher in Tennessee and beyond, free of charge.
Project team members include Chris Boyer, Karen DeLong and Carlos Trejo-Pech from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Christopher Stripling and Carrie Stephens from the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications.