For Immediate Release
September 12, 2007
Illinois State Board of Education announces $1 million to support agriculture education in Illinois
300 schools to receive additional funds to invest in agriculture programs; seven high schools starting new ag education programs
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today announced $1 million in agricultural education incentive grants that will be distributed to 300 schools around the state for the 2007-2008 school year. The grants will help schools upgrade equipment, train teachers and develop curriculum to educate children about the state’s number one industry. In addition, the grants assisted seven high schools in starting new agricultural programs this year.
“These grants offer both the students and the schools great dividends. When a student is involved in an agricultural education program, they are learning more than just agriculture,” said Christopher Koch, State Superintendent of Education. “Agricultural education is multidisciplinary and therefore reinforces what is being taught in the core subjects of science, language arts, mathematics and social science.”
The incentive grants will support local program improvement including technology, equipment and curriculum development, teacher training, field support services, program coordination, pilot projects, and other initiatives. All schools offering approved programs in agricultural education at the high school level are eligible to apply for incentive grants.
High school agricultural education teaches and reinforces science, math, language arts and social science principles. Major areas of instruction in secondary agricultural education include: Agricultural Business, Agricultural Mechanics & Technology, Horticulture, Agricultural Sciences, and Environmental/Natural Sciences. Seven high schools are starting agricultural education programs for the 2007-2008 school year and include:
- Belvidere North High School, Belvidere
- Freeport High School, Freeport
- Johnston City High School, Johnston City
- Mattoon High School, Mattoon
- Momence High School, Momence
- Urbana High School, Urbana
- Watseka Community High School, Watseka
Only a small percentage of those people working in agricultural industry are involved in production agriculture, the rest work in agribusiness, communications, science, government, education, processing and distribution, marketing and sales, as well as other occupations that serve the farmer or the total agricultural industry. The Illinois Leadership Council for Agricultural Education (ILCAE) reports that less than 2 percent of the United States population is directly involved in the production of food, yet 24.4 percent of the civilian workforce in Illinois is employed in agriculture related careers.
Other agricultural education facts:
- 78 percent of the agricultural programs receive academic course credit in math, science, social studies, language arts, or consumer economics.
- In 2006, there were 26,329 agricultural education students – 9,075 were female, or 34 percent.
- Demographics of an agriculture student: 60 percent live in a town or city; 27 percent live in a rural area; 9 percent are minority.
Since 1989, ISBE has awarded more than $12 million in incentive grants to schools. The grants are awarded through regional Education for Employment partnerships. Each partnership consists of a grouping of school districts with a board of control made up of the superintendents or their representative from each district.
Agricultural education in Illinois is supported by a statewide agricultural education team that includes the Illinois Leadership Council for Agricultural Education (ILCAE), the Governor-appointed Illinois Committee for Agricultural Education (ICAE), Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), Illinois FFA and its associated groups, Illinois Association of Vocational Agriculture Teachers (IAVAT), Illinois Association Community College Agriculture Instructors (IACCAI), University Council, Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom and FCAE.
A complete list of schools receiving the grants can be found online at: http://www.isbe.net/pdf/ag_ed_allocations_08.pdf.