Challenges Continue For Wisconsin Agricultural Educators

Teachers – they’re a hot commodity in Wisconsin and across the nation, as we continue to see rising retirements and openings in the profession. Jeff Hicken, agricultural education consultant with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, and Wisconsin FFA Advisor says the state’s agriculture educators are a part of that “hot” list and school’s are facing plenty of vacancies before the fall term.

As of now, Hicken says Wisconsin has 23 openings and 7 retirements in the world of agricultural education. He says there are “about 200 years of experience in the classroom” being lost through retirements. That means there’s a call for young teachers to try and fill that gap. Even the remaining agriculture teachers are still under stress, meaning many may still be considering retirement or a change of career direction.

Hicken did say that both UW-River Falls and UW-Platteville have indicated enrollments are up in their agricultural education programs, and there was a high number of student teachers in the field in both semesters this year. He hopes that interest in the career track will continue to be strong, and provide quality candidates as future teachers in the state. Hicken says it’s not just a need for agriculture teachers in the state, but all career and technical education teacher as well.

Even with high demand for ag teachers, other schools are at adding agriculture education programs where they don’t exist. Nekoosa and Hayward High Schools both looking at potentially starting new programs.

“We need people to look at this as a profession for them to look into being part of,” Hicken said.