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Dordt College, University of Nebraska offer ag education degree

October 30, 2007

Nebraska Agreement

Officials from Dordt College and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln publicly announced a cooperative agriculture education degree agreement at a signing ceremony held Tuesday, Oct. 30, at Dordt College.

The new 3 + 1 articulation agreement offers students seeking careers as high school agriculture teachers the opportunity to take their first three years of classes at Dordt College in Iowa, then transfer to Nebraska’s UN-L for a final year of study. Graduates will receive an accredited Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Education from UN-L. Because Dordt course credit hours are pre-approved for transfer, students can complete their teaching certification in four years.

Only one institution in Iowa currently offers an agriculture education degree (Iowa State University), while UN-L is the only accredited program in Nebraska.

“We see this as a wonderful option for high school graduates who are looking for a Christian college education, for a smaller more rural campus setting, or who just prefer to make Northwest Iowa their home for most of their college years,” said Dr. Duane Bajema, professor of agriculture at Dordt. “This cooperative agreement will serve as a litmus test to gauge the degree of interest in this major,” said Bajema. “It puts Dordt College in a position to move quickly and efficiently with further developments in agriculture education if warranted by student demand.”

Agriculture is among the top enrollment programs at Dordt College, with six different emphases within the four year degree, as well as a two-year associate degree program and a pre-veterinary program of study. The existing emphases are agri-business, animal science, ag missions, biotechnology, plant science, and engineering science with an emphasis in agriculture.

UN-L’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) is an internationally recognized land-grant college with a foundation in agriculture teacher education. Their program emphasizes providing students with an active role in the learning process to educate in a context that will be retained and utilized in practical ways. The program provides specialized course work in agricultural education, mechanics and engine works, welding, woodworking, crop science, agronomy, animal science, and fundamental hydraulics.

According to the Iowa Governor’s Council on Agricultural Education, a shortage of trained graduates in agriculture education currently exists. ISU Chairman, Robert Martin, reports that enrollment in teacher education programs in agriculture is at an all-time low, while the demand for well-educated agriculturalists is at an all-time high. He cites the retirement of baby boomers and a variety of other attractive ag industry career options as contributing factors to the teacher shortage. This summer the governor’s council developed 10 action steps to revitalize agricultural education in Iowa, based on a Summit on School-Based Agricultural Education held in March.

A national study of the supply and demand for teachers of agricultural education was published in May of this year by Adam J. Kantrovich, assistant professor at the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences College of Science and Technology, Morehead State University.

Kantrovich’s national study estimated that in fall of 2006, 40 ag education programs could not operate due to lack of qualified agriculture teachers, and that overall there were 78 more existing positions than qualified teachers. He concludes, “When giving thought to population growth, potential retirements, a push nationally to expand non-traditional agricultural education programs in urban schools, promote junior high/middle school programs, and the Council growth plan to have 10,000 quality programs by 2015, we are falling significantly short on the production of agriculture teachers and of those newly qualified actually taking jobs within the profession.”

The 3 + 1 articulation agreement with UN-L is not the first time Dordt’s agriculture department has worked cooperatively with other colleges and universities. Dordt’s Agriculture Department has conducted cooperative educational and research projects with Iowa State University, Iowa State Extension, the University of Minnesota, South Dakota State University, the University of Nebraska, and several other institutions.

“Agriculture is a significant part of our environment and calling,” said Dr. Carl E. Zylstra, president of Dordt College, at the signing ceremony. “This is an opportunity right in our own front yard to help the next generation learn about agriculture.”

Dr. Steven S. Waller, dean of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, said he expects that the Dordt transfer students will enrich their program and is excited for the program to begin.

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