NASHVILLE/WOODBURY: Tennessee is implementing a new model for agricultural education that will advance opportunities for students and enhance support for teachers.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) and the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) are partnering with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to boost Tennessee’s agricultural education programs through the FFA student organization. Tennessee’s FFA enrollment has more than doubled since 2020, making it one of the largest FFA organizations in the nation.
Changes set forth in the MOU include creating six new staff positions at TDA that are focused on FFA members and their learning activities outside of the classroom, including the Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) programs and FFA competitions and events. The model creates an FFA State Director position under the purview of TDA. TDOE will continue to focus on in-classroom curriculum development and teacher support, and a new FFA Deputy State Director will be added to their staff.
“Agriculture is the top industry in the state, and developing future leaders in agriculture, food, fiber, and natural resource systems is essential to our economic outlook,” Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “TDA is pleased to be a part of this new structure of collaboration with educators to better prepare the next generation of agricultural and forestry professionals. Anytime we can enhance learning experiences for students, we are all in.”
Experience beyond the classroom will be extended into communities to help students develop competencies in agricultural careers. TDA will design and facilitate immersive SAE projects that align with principles of agricultural education standards designed by TDOE.
“Tennessee understands the importance of agricultural education, and thanks to our state partners at TDA, Tennessee can provide even more supports and growth opportunities for students across the state,” Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn. said. “The department will continue supporting teachers and ensure that this instruction is aligned with core FFA skills — science, math, communications, leadership, management, and technology — to support the post-secondary success of our students.”
TDOE will design and implement kindergarten through twelfth grade agricultural education course standards and resources for classroom and laboratory instruction with the application of skills demonstrated in SAE projects and programs.
“Tennessee FFA is growing faster than ever and the need for aspiring leaders and workers is strong,” state FFA President Taylor Cantrell said. “This new partnership between the Departments of Agriculture and Education will help students ultimately meet the needs of industry and of our communities. FFA members now and in the future will benefit from this positive change.”
“This is such a historical moment for the whole state of Tennessee,” said T. Wayne Williams, Woodbury FFA President of Cannon County High School. “I appreciate all the people who worked tirelessly to make this combination happen between the Department of Education and Department of Agriculture. I am truly honored that I was able to witness the signing of the MOU at the state capitol today. This will truly shape the outlook of agriculture classes and FFA for the better. I cannot wait to see how this allegiance will strengthen the number one industry in the state of Tennessee.”
“The MOU signing today between the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Education on behalf of Tennessee FFA, is encouraging both as an agriculture teacher and FFA advisor. Emily Haley, Woodbury FFA Advisor, Cannon County High School said. “The strides that these individuals are making on behalf of the FFA membership in our state is promising for what is to come. I am excited to see what is accomplished from this historic moment today.”
“This MOU is very significant in a unique partnership between the Tennessee Department of Education and Tennessee Department of Agriculture, said William Freddy Curtis, Director of Cannon County Schools. “I continue to utilize the leadership skills each day that I learned while serving as an FFA member and FFA officer, president of my chapter. The FFA experiences have served me well, and the friendships made have been life-long. I still believe as the FFA Creed states, ‘with a faith born not of words but of deeds – achievements won by the present and past generations.’ Our present and future students of agriculture at Cannon County High School are leading the way, past, present, and future.”
The Tennessee General Assembly and Gov. Bill Lee established an Agricultural Education and Youth Participation Task Force in 2019 to address the national decline in the number of young adults entering the agriculture workforce. A five-member, volunteer Agricultural Education Council will be established to serve as the primary advisory group for the agricultural education program model in Tennessee.
Fifth from the left, Woodbury FFA President of Cannon County High School, T. Wayne Williams, looks on as Tennessee Department of Agriculture Commissioner, Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. and Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn, sign the MOU between the two Tennessee departments.
Contact William Freddy Curtis, Director of Cannon County Schools, at (629) 201-4801, ext.10101, or at email@example.com for information.