Study shows state shortage of Ag instructors - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Study shows state shortage of Ag instructors

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THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) -

Agriculture is Georgia's top industry, but is its future in jeopardy?

A recent study conducted by the University of Georgia shows the state has a shortage of agriculture instructors, a trend that began 30 years ago.

Land, Forest, Wildlife Management and Agriculture Technology instructors Mike Allen and Adam Ford mastered their crafts before teaching them to others.

"I spent 32 years with a natural resource agency and you know to be honest it wasn't time for me to quit. I still liked this field. I think there is a lot to share with others and if I can contribute to that, I'd like to be a part of it," said Allen.

"I had success in the field being a technician and I had the opportunity to come back and teach and I wanted to give my knowledge back to the industry and back to students," said Ford.

But while the agricultural industry continues to grow, a recent study suggests the number of qualified instructors is shrinking.

"It could end up being a shortage of skilled labor, skilled people in the Ag industry. Because if you lose people, it gets lost along the way. The trade secrets if you will and like I said the skilled labor," said Ford.

Both Allen and Ford say one problem could be how fast the equipment and practices are changing.

"You have so much new technology. You have so many new modifications to the way we used to do things that teachers have a hard time keeping up, staying abreast of current contemporary information and knowledge. That is one of the difficulties that we do have in finding and retaining good teachers," said Allen.

"The workforce right now is older. I wouldn't say elderly, but I'd say older. So there is a big gap between age groups and it's technicians especially that are in high demand in the Ag field," said Ford.

Ford says one of the biggest reasons folks choose to veer away from this business is the old school farm stigma.

He says people always think you are just a lowly farmer, but he says the Ag market is so much more than that.

The study says roughly 50 percent of Georgia's agriculture instructors either move or leave the profession within the first five years.

 

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