Record numbers of Illinois students study ag, Join FFA
Across Illinois, students set records for agriculture class enrollment and for FFA membership, based on recently released 2019-20 school year data.
Dean Dittmar, coordinator of Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education (FCAE), noted the enrollment and membership achievements during a recent virtual meeting of the Illinois Leadership Council for Agricultural Education (ILCAE). Dittmar noted FCAE data now covers agriculture, food and natural resources classes.
Statewide, 43,941 students in fifth through 12th grade took classes in ag, food and natural resources. This includes 231 students attending private schools. Illinois FFA also set a record with 20,671 members.
For the 2020-21 school year, the state experienced a net gain of two new agriculture programs for a total of 356, according to Dittmar.
Across Illinois, 452 teachers are providing instruction in ag, food and natural resources classes. Dittmar noted 65 of 66 teacher openings were filled last year. In addition, Illinois Virtual School hired two teachers to provide online high school agriculture classes.
The numbers of new college graduates in agricultural education continue to be a bright spot after several years of openings outstripping graduates. Last year, 86%, or 19 out of 22, ag ed graduates started teaching careers.
Dittmar noted a larger number, 39 college students, are expected to graduate with degrees in agricultural education in May 2021.