ABAC works toward offering Ag Ed degree

TIFTON, GA (WALB) - Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton is on track to offer a new degree next year.

School officials said the program in Ag Education will fill a big gap in the workforce.

It might be hard to picture a classroom without a teacher, but, when it comes to ag education, instructors aren't as easy to come by as you might think.

"There's been a shortage of Ag teachers in the state of Georgia in the Southeast for many years," Jerry Baker, Dean of the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said. "Over thirty years in Georgia."

Only two universities in the state were approved to hand out ag ed degrees before October making it even hard to fill that gap. ABAC freshman Sadie Lackey said that has impacted organizations such as Future Farmers of America.

"There is about fifty openings every year for ag education teachers," Lackey said. "Those do not all get filled. So, there is a lot of programs that lack the most important resource of an ag ed program, which is an educator."

So, to help solve the problem, ABAC is on track to launch a Bachelors of Science in Agricultural Education program. Regents have already given it the green light. The school will begin to work with a state education agency next week to get a program ready by Fall 2017.

That has students like Lackey, who came into ABAC interested in ag ed, but initially lacking an opportunity, switching their majors.

"To people that love ag ed, that love the agriculture industry, that's just like music to their ears," Lackey said. "The opportunity for there to be more ag educators in the state of Georgia is something that we vitally need."

Baker said around one hundred students are interested in ag education at ABAC.

He adds that graduates who the earn the degree will be prepared to teach in classrooms or work for the government and multi-national corporations.

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