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Agricultural educators are hard to find

A state FFA Advisor says finding qualified agricultural educators remains a challenge.  Sally Ladsten from Wisconsin tells Brownfield there is a shortage of ag educators to teach, oversee FFA chapters, and manage the supervised agricultural experiences the FFA members take on.

Ladsten says Wisconsin is using some new initiatives to help fill some positions. “Some alternate licensing options have definitely opened the doors a little bit for that as well as some initiatives we’ve taken as a state. The STAR, State Teach Ag Results Program is really looking at how we can increase our numbers of agriculture teachers in both recruiting new teachers but also retaining the teachers that we have.”

Ladsten says they have an experience-based license as well as an emergency-based license for potential ag educators.  She says they would love to have all candidates go through an agricultural education degree program, but there are not enough of them to go around.

Ladsten says Wisconsin is looking to fill more than 30 agricultural instructor positions. “Some are because of retirements. Some are because people fill those retirement positions and then obviously, this creates this domino effect, and some are from new programs looking at trying to either start a new program or also just expanding from one teacher to two, or whatever that looks like for an individual district.”

Ladsten says over the years, some schools have eliminated agricultural education and lost some FFA chapters because they could not find an agricultural educator.  She also encourages community members to work with FFA Alumni groups and school districts to help support their local ag education efforts.

Ladsten is a former Wisconsin FFA State President from Sauk Prairie, a licensed agricultural instructor, and has also been a research assistant with a crop protection company.  She spoke to Brownfield during the Wisconsin FFA State Convention in Madison.

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