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Administrator Guidebook

Why should our high school offer agricultural education courses?
Agricultural education is a key component of the Illinois education system, and enhances the social, economic and environmental well-being of the state. As Illinoisnois' Largest employer, approximately 69 percent of Illinois' job growth is related to agriculture and 25 percent of the Illinois civilian workforce is employed in the agriculture industry. To support this industry, we must also support the future of agricultural education.

Agricultural Education courses in Illinois provide excellent opportunities for students to learn about career opportunities within food, fiber, natural resource and related industries. Agricultural education leads the way in preparing students to meet Illinois Learning Standards, Occupational Skill Standards, and Workplace Skill Standards.
"Despite the continuing restructuring of agricultural industries, career opportunities are excellent for young men and women, who make commitments to both formal education in their chosen areas, as well as to their own personal leadership development."
   - Charles E. Olson, Asst. Dean for Academic Programs, UIUC College of ACES
  • 79 percent of Illinois' agriculture programs allow an agricultural course to fulfill high school graduation requirements in math, science, social studies, language arts or consumer education.
  • 72 percent of agriculture seniors continue their education after high school.
Additional information and facts on how your students and school can benefit from offering agriculture/horticulture courses can be found in this PowerPoint Presentation that may be downloaded and used in to promote the implementation of an agriculture/horticulture program in your local community.

How can a school gain state approval for an agricultural education program?
If your school currently does not offer agriculture or horticulture courses but would like to add these course offerings for students, there are many resources to assist in the development of an approvable agricultural/horticultural program sequence.

Fully funded programs consist of at least one credit at the Freshman/Sophomore level and at least two courses at the Junior/Senior level within the same Career Pathway.

FCAE Program Advisors are available to provide assistance in developing a full sequence of courses at your school. sample course outlines and lesson plans are already developed that will streamline the approval process for your school. Working with your Program advisor during the approval process at your local school will make the course approval process at the state and regional levels much easier. Once your school approves a local course description and course outline, your Education for Employment System Director will approve the courses at the regional level and submit them for approval to the Illinois State Board of Education. New courses should be to the EFE System Director by April of the school year preceding the initial offering of courses.

Is there funding assistance available for agricultural programs?
In addition to the Career and Technical Education Improvement Grant and Perkins Grant funding, the Illinois State Board of Education provides yearly Incentive Funding Grants to local schools with agriculture/horticulture programs. Upon completion of an initial grant application, a one time start-up grant of $10,000 for the first two years, $5000 per year, is awarded to any school implementing an agricultural/horticulture program for their school that has been approved through their respective EFE Regional CTE System. Assistance in completing the initial application is available from the FCAE Program Advisor assigned to the region. Following the second year, schools may complete the application for the Incentive Funding Grant on an annual basis. The average allocation per school is approximately $2500 and is determined by the score (quality indicators achieved for the past school year) received from the grant application. Each school that completes the grant application receives funding with the allocation amount based upon the activities of the program. Several reports generated from data collected through the Incentive Funding Grant Application as well as view a sample grant application. Facility and Equipment Improvement Grants with a maximum grant amount of $10,000 are also available yearly to established programs.

What assistance is available for implementing and maintaining a high school agricultural education program?
As a result of funding made available through the Agricultural Education Line Item in the Illinois State Board of Education budget, FCAE Program Advisors are available to assist in every phase of developing and maintaining an agriculture program at the high school level.

sample course outlines are available in the Teacher's Toolbox portion of this website to assist in curriculum planning. Over 800 lesson plans have been developed by agriculture teachers in Illinois, aligned to the Illinois State Learning Standards, and made available free of charge to Illinois high schools with agriculture programs. Additionally, PowerPoint Presentations and Academic Agriculture Assessments have been developed as supplements to the lesson plans provided in CD format to teachers. Contact your Program Advisor to obtain a username and password for access to the Teacher Toolbox items.

What courses and topics should we teach in the agricultural courses we select?
There are 5 Career Pathways identified for agricultural education programs in Illinois. To be eligible for an approvable program in Agricultural Education, schools must offer at least one credit per year at the Freshman/Sophomore level and two courses at the Junior/Senior level within the same career pathway. Schools may offer the Junior/Senior level courses on an every-other-year basis.

Curriculum has been developed for each of the five career pathway areas. The links that follow are to word documents that outline the student learning objectives found on the Illinois Agricultural Curriculum CD's in each of the five areas. The five career pathways are Agriculture Business and Management, Agricultural Mechanics and Technology, Horticulture, Agricultural Science, and Natural Resources. In addition, there is curriculum used to help teachers instruct students about SAE's, FFA, and Agricultural Education.

Student interests and community needs are important factors to consider when selecting Career Pathways and course offerings for an agricultural/horticultural program. A student survey and input from business and industry in your local community are important factors to consider when building a quality agricultural/horticultural program.

FCAE Program advisors have created sample course outlines to assist in curriculum planning. Over 800 lesson plans have been developed by agriculture teachers in Illinois, aligned to the Illinois State Learning Standards, and made available free of charge to Illinois high schools with agriculture programs.

How do I find a qualified teacher to teach our agriculture courses?
Program Advisors along with the four universities in Illinois with Agricultural Education teacher preparation programs - University of Illinois, Southern Illinois University, Illinois State University, and Western Illinois University - are the best sources for identifying quality candidates to teach in your high school agriculture/horticulture program. Each Spring, available candidates are identified and listed "Teaching Candidates"page. Additionally, agricultural teaching vacancies are listed on our "Teaching Vacancies" page.

Are there curriculum resources available for teaching agriculture?
Over 800 lesson plans, PowerPoint Presentations, Academic Agriculture Assessments, and Online Student Content E Units, and Online Assessments (Quiz and Test Maker) are available free of charge to all agriculture teachers in Illinois. Furthermore, each lesson plan developed through the FCAE Project is linked to the state academic learning standards and identifies recommended textbooks for additional resource material. Delmar Learning and Prentice Hall are two publishing companies that currently provide a significant portion of the agricultural textbooks used statewide. Curriculum materials are also available through Information Technology and Communication Services at the University of Illinois.

Are there state agricultural education learning standards?
Currently, there are not agricultural education learning standards, however, the lesson plans developed through the FCAE Project are aligned to the Academic State Learning Standards.

Can Students receive academic credit for agricultural courses?
Yes, in fact, over 79 % of all schools with agriculture programs in Illinois allow agricultural courses to fulfill high school graduation requirements. Students in Illinois who successfully complete specific agriculture courses can fulfill academic high school graduation requirements in math, science, social studies, language arts and consumer education.

Additionally, students enrolled in the Biological Science Applications in Agriculture (BSAA) and/or Physical Science Applications in Agriculture (PSAA) courses may fulfill university laboratory science admissions requirements. As a result of the significant laboratory basis of these two courses, the NCAA Eligibility Center may approve these courses for laboratory science admission requirements for intercollegiate athletes.

What types of professional development activities are available for agriculture teachers?
Professional development opportunities are available to agriculture teachers at several conferences throughout the year. Through partnerships between FCAE, the Illinois Association of Vocational Agriculture Teachers (IAVAT), and agricultural businesses, experts from all aspects of the agriculture industry provide educational workshops for teachers. Agriculture teachers remain up-to-date on the latest agricultural industry techniques as well as new curriculum resources that are available for classroom use. In-service activities are selected by the IAVAT Professional Development Committee with input provided from a survey completed by Illinois agriculture teachers.