Many of you can easily think back to great memories from your time in "ag." I quickly think back to the moment I realized, "This isn’t like my other classes." In agriscience, I got to do things, use my hands, apply math and science, and even learned how to use shop tools the right way.
I love when people ask me, "Why did you become an ag teacher?" My family has always been involved in agriculture, especially forestry. I always planned to work in the "log woods."
When I entered the agriscience classroom in seventh grade at Brantley High School in Crenshaw County, I was not motivated by anything school offered me. I lacked social skills. I was only interested in football and the latest, greatest video games of the time such as Mario Brothers. I believe my ag teacher Mark Andrews saw something in me no one else had. He invited me to join the forestry team when I was only in the seventh grade.
I was excited to start learning more about forestry. I remember how much I enjoyed riding in the back of the old, brown Toyota truck, trying to keep my books out of the rust holes in the bed and wiggling the battery cable each time we needed to leave. I remember feeling like I finally found something I truly belonged to.
While I thought I was learning tree identification and timber cruising, I transformed from the shy, seventh-grade kid to a mature, responsible young adult. I quickly began to try harder and realized, just maybe, there was a purpose for the academic classes, too.
I realized the best way to change lives and to make a small impact on society is in the agriscience classroom! I loved sharing my passion for agriculture with young people and, above all, watching students make the same transition I made.
I know you may be thinking teaching agriscience sounds great, but "I’m not going back to school, so how can I teach ag?" Here are the answers to just a few common questions we often hear.
Did you know someone with a B.S. degree or higher in an agricultural-related field can teach agriscience?
If you hold a bachelor’s degree in an agriculture-related field, you can start teaching agriscience education. This is a great option for anyone who may be having difficulty finding a job in industry, someone wanting to have more time with their children or someone wanting to take advantage of the many benefits offered to agriscience teachers.
How do I get certified?
Option 1: A bachelor’s degree in Agriscience Education (Traditional Route)
Option 2: Alternative Baccalaureate Certification - If you have a bachelor’s degree in an agriculture-related field, you may be eligible to begin teaching this year while meeting a few other requirements.
Option 3: Agriculture Praxis II - If you are certified as a teacher in another subject area, you may be able to get certified in Agriscience Education by successfully passing a Praxis II examination.
Is there a job opening?
This is an important question for anyone deciding which career to pursue. Please investigate potential job openings before pursuing a career. Currently there is a large national shortage of agricultural educators. It is estimated there will be hundreds of unfilled positions across the United States this year. In Alabama, a majority of agriscience teachers are eligible to retire today. We will need many agriculture teachers across Alabama. There is a great chance there will be an opening near you.
How much does it pay?
Alabama offers agriculture teachers a competitive salary with that of many agricultural industry professions. Alabama has a minimum salary matrix used by many school systems. This matrix is based on a 187-day contract. Many agriscience teachers are paid additional days of work during the summer months by their school system. We also offer a competitive grant that agriscience teachers can apply for to be paid to work extra in the summer months. A new teacher in their first year with a bachelor’s degree would earn $36,144 for a 187-day contract. Teacher salaries continue to rise for degrees, years of experience and days worked. A 12-month agriscience teacher with a master’s degree and 21 years of experience could earn $66,309 per year!
What are the benefits?
Teaching comes with a multitude of benefits. Some of those are:
Affordable health and dental insurance
Following school calendar similar to your children
Alabama retirement system
Never having the same day twice
Teaching what you love!
For more information:
Chris Kennedy is a Central District Specialist Alabama FFA Association and Education Specialist with the Alabama Department of Education.