Agriculture teachers in short supply, high demand


Agricultural education is a job market in need of employees.  In fact, there’s a great need for people to teach agriculture. The problem exists in many states.

“We have a huge shortage within the state and nation of ag teachers and so that’s something that we’re trying to correct,” said Kathy Novotney, who is with Facilitating Coordination in Ag Education, an organization in Illinois that, among other things, recruits and retains agriculture teachers.

Last year, Illinois alone had 60 agriculture teacher openings, said Novotney.

“At the same time, we only had 12 students that graduated from college that were certified to teach ag last year,” said Novotney, talking to Brownfield Ag News at the Illinois State FFA Convention in Springfield.  “Of those 12, only six were actually seeking positions; the other six had taken jobs within the ag industry.”

Novotney says this is a good time to get into the agriculture teaching profession.  She says that if a candidate is willing to relocate, there are jobs to be had.  The organization she’s with is trying to identify funding sources that can be put toward filling empty teaching positions.

AUDIO: Kathy Novotney (8 min. MP3)

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  • I am a senior in high school in Hamlin, West Virginia. My original plan was to become and Agriculture Teacher. I love being in FFA, I am currently President of my Chapter, I am extremely active in all parts of the Chapter including some of the roles that are naturally taken on by the Advisor. It seems West Virginia has the exact opposite problem from Illinois. We have too much supply and not enough demand. All ag teacher positions are filled and by the time I get out of college and ready to teach the “Flush” will have already happened. The “Flush” I refer to is when a load of Ag teachers retire and everyone coming from WVU will fill their spots. We have so many that are going to be an Ag teacher that most don’t even use their degrees. So I’m considering not even trying for a degree in Agriculture Education and Extension and just going for a degree in Ag business and becoming a supervisor on a dairy. I would most definitely go to Illinois to proudly fill a position because I do believe in the future of agriculture. But I cannot see myself traveling for a job interview or moving before I even know the state that the chapter is in or with a plan to get things moving when I do become a teacher. Are you still having this issue in Illinois? Have any of the positions been filled over the summer? Are the schools working to find someone? What about chapter numbers? Completer numbers? Will there be any land for me to work with? Animals? Are other states having this issue? I still don’t know what I am going to do with my future, and that scares me because college is so close. Any advice?

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