State Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg), a longtime proponent of agricultural education, has been appointed to the newly created Agriculture Education Shortage Task Force which aims to address the ongoing teacher shortages in agriculture education.
“In 2016, high schools in Illinois had 85 openings for agriculture teachers, but universities in Illinois graduated only 21 agriculture education majors. Of those, only 14 went on to teach,” said Fowler. “Agriculture is a vital industry in Illinois. We have to do what we can to encourage students to go into this field.”
The Agriculture Education Shortage Task Force has been charged with studying various aspects of this shortage including the current number of licensed agriculture teachers and the number of graduates from an agriculture education program in recent years. The members have also been asked to come up with recommendations for teacher recruitment and reforming licensure barriers, as well as participation in federal programs aimed at recruitment and retention.
The Task Force will be composed of legislators, current secondary and higher education agriculture educators, as well as various other agricultural stakeholders. A report of the Task Force’s findings is due to the General Assembly by January 1, 2019.
“I want to thank Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady for appointing me to this Task Force so we can get to the root of the problem,” said Fowler. “I look forward to digging further into this issue to ensure that agriculture education in Illinois continues to be available to future generations.”