Illinois FFA Ag Skills Showcase includes students with intellectual disabilities

Photo courtesy of Illinois FCAE

A new Illinois FFA event is allowing members with special education needs to showcase their passion and talents in agriculture.

“Giving opportunities to all of our students is really what this organization is about.”

Jennifer Waters with Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education (FCAE) tells Brownfield the 2023 Agriculture Skills Showcase is open to all students to highlight their interest in areas like the public speaking, career preparation, food science, ag mechanics, natural resources and more.

“And if they so choose, they’ll have the opportunity to meet with a panel of judges who will interview hem about what they have submitted to us via video, or poster, or written document, and share their accomplishments and what they are most proud of in agriculture education.”

She says there are many students doing amazing work in the ag classroom, but they aren’t always the ones getting on the bus to compete in FFA events. She uses FFA Creed Speaking as an example.

“We teach that to all of our students, but some of them can’t memorize five paragraphs of text. Still, that creed and belief in agriculture and agriculture education still means something to them.”

She says the interaction and feedback received during FFA Career Development Events are valuable in preparing students for life after high school.  

“And that shouldn’t be an opportunity that we just afford to those top students in all of our programs. We want to give the same opportunity for all of our students in order that they are better prepared for their futures.”

Waters says the event is geared toward ag education students and FFA members in middle school and high school with an emphasis on individuals with a learning disability, IEP or 504 Plan. The deadline to submit artifacts is April 24th and optional interviews will be held in early May.  

Interview with Jennifer Waters

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