September 19, 2023

Herbert College of Agriculture Department rec

image: The Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications (ALEC) at the University of Tennessee’s Herbert College of Agriculture has received the 2021 Outstanding Post-Secondary Agriculture Program Award from the National Association of Agricultural Educators. The award is given to post-secondary programs that emphasize sustainable teaching methods, enhance student motivation, and exemplify excellent experiential learning. Pictured is ALEC faculty member Jennifer Richards (right) working in a Tennessee classroom. Image courtesy UTIA.
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Credit: Image reproduced courtesy of UTIA.

Knoxville, Tenn. – A program within the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture has been recognized as the nation’s leading educator for high school agriculture teachers.

The Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication (ALEC) at Herbert College of Agriculture was awarded the 2021 National Association of Agricultural Educators Outstanding Post-Secondary Agriculture Program at the 2021 NAAE Convention in New Orleans on last month. The award is given to post-secondary programs that emphasize sustainable teaching methods, enhance student motivation, and exemplify excellent experiential learning. The award is sponsored by Bayer, and Professor and Department Head Christopher Stripling accepted the award on behalf of the faculty and college.

ALEC partners with the UT Knoxville College of Education, Health, and Humanities (CEHHS), and through ALEC students can earn a Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in education agricultural. With more than 30,500 students enrolled in more than 900 programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, UT Knoxville is the flagship institution of the University of Tennessee system. Currently, the Knoxville campus has a student-faculty ratio of 17-1 and their educator preparation programs are ranked among the top institutions for teacher preparation.

David Cihak, Associate Dean of Professional Licensure and Director of the Graduate School of Education at CEHHS, said the ALEC partnership is critical in preparing educators for the challenges of the 2020s and beyond, “This distinguished recognition signifies the leadership and commitment to agriculture education faculty, staff, and students should not be content with the status quo; rather, expand the educational horizons of teachers who are equipped to meet teaching expectations and learning in the 21st century, “said Cihak.

Stripling says ALEC is a vibrant community and evolving composed of individuals dedicated to teaching, learning, leadership and self-reflection for continuous improvement. The teacher preparation program at UT Knoxville focuses on learning experiences focused on career in secondary classes, and ALEC focuses on experiences that prepare candidates to teach young country one the pillars of the national economy – agriculture. Each semester for teaching students, candidates are required to submit instructional materials and assessments and a portfolio of newspaper and observations of other teachers.

Leadership development is integrated into all facets of the experience and is a key component of the ALEC academic program. Successful teacher candidates include organization and club leaders in groups such as Collegiate 4-H and FFA (Future Farmers of America), Sigma Alpha, Young Farmers and Ranchers, Student Government, National 4-H and National FFA .

UT Knoxville is proud of the many partnerships created over the years to ensure the success of its agricultural education program. Currently, the program maintains partnerships with 73 school districts across Tennessee in multiple community settings. This network of stakeholders collaborates to establish and deliver high-quality and useful clinical experiences to all teachers trained at UT Knoxville.

NAAE is the professional organization for agricultural educators with over 8,000 members nationwide. It provides members with networking and professional development opportunities, professional liability coverage, and extensive rewards and recognition programs. NAAE’s mission is “Professionals providing agricultural education to the global community through visionary leadership, advocacy, and service.”

Through its mission of land-grant research, education, and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and delivers Real. Life. Solutions.

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