On RFD-TV: Matt Kreifels
High school agricultural education and FFA programs prepare students for careers. But a national teacher shortage is making ag education positions more difficult to fill. The University of Nebraska recently announced plans to bolster recruitment, support and retention of high school ag-ed instructors. Matt Kreifels, an associate professor in UNL’s department of agricultural leadership, education and communications, talks about the efforts live on RFD-TV, April 20, 2022.
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[00:00:00.330]Well, a national teacher shortage is making ag
[00:00:02.850]education positions difficult to fill.
[00:00:05.340]The University of Nebraska recently announced
[00:00:07.560]plans to bolster recruitment and support for high
[00:00:10.110]school ag ed instructors.
[00:00:11.970]Matt Kreifels with the Department of Ag
[00:00:13.860]Leadership, Education and Communications joins us
[00:00:16.320]now for the latest on that effort.
[00:00:18.060]And Matt, thank you for your time here this
[00:00:19.740]morning, if you would tell us about the state of
[00:00:22.320]ag ed in Nebraska.
[00:00:25.830]Morning, Janet. The state of agricultural
[00:00:28.710]education in Nebraska is pretty exciting.
[00:00:31.230]If you actually look back to 2010, when the
[00:00:33.930]current seniors in high school were
[00:00:35.880]kindergarteners, a lot has changed in that amount
[00:00:39.720]In fact, high school ag programs in the state of
[00:00:43.470]Nebraska have grown from 133 schools that offered
[00:00:46.560]the program to today 203, which is over 50% growth
[00:00:50.910]in the state.
[00:00:52.170]That means more students involved in ag education,
[00:00:54.630]more students that are FFA members than ever
[00:00:56.610]before, in the state of Nebraska, which if you
[00:00:59.190]look across the country, no state's seen growth
[00:01:01.200]quite like Nebraska's seen that growth.
[00:01:03.990]But with that has come have come some challenges,
[00:01:06.780]including a teacher shortage that we're
[00:01:08.910]experiencing in the state of Nebraska, that up
[00:01:11.250]until this time the university has been able to
[00:01:13.380]prepare enough teachers.
[00:01:15.060]But today we're struggling to find enough
[00:01:17.790]So what is the state doing to address the
[00:01:21.840]Well, we're working between the University of
[00:01:24.240]Nebraska-Lincoln, which is the only place that
[00:01:26.160]graduates high school ag teachers in the state,
[00:01:28.500]and the Nebraska Department of Education and
[00:01:31.140]partnering with other organizations to get the
[00:01:33.750]word out that we need more teachers.
[00:01:36.570]But what we're excited about here at the
[00:01:38.370]university is that we've done two different
[00:01:42.240]The first is that we're hiring or we have hired
[00:01:45.030]two new faculty members that will be out in
[00:01:47.910]Nebraska, one in the panhandle, and the other in
[00:01:50.250]northeast Nebraska that will work not just on
[00:01:52.770]recruiting ag teachers to the profession that will
[00:01:55.530]also work with the retention of teachers and
[00:01:58.020]providing them critical support as they begin
[00:02:01.740]The second part of that strategy is working with
[00:02:05.100]and hiring a new faculty member that will be
[00:02:07.440]joining our faculty here on campus in Lincoln to
[00:02:10.590]help prepare those, those future teachers.
[00:02:13.650]And so we're looking at this as kind of a two
[00:02:15.960]pronged approach where retention is important, but
[00:02:18.630]also, of course, recruiting more people into the
[00:02:21.540]profession will help us.
[00:02:23.010]And why is it so important for Nebraska and other
[00:02:25.230]ag states to have a strong ag ed program?
[00:02:29.850]Well, like many states, agriculture is our largest
[00:02:33.230]industry and high school agricultural programs
[00:02:36.345]really serve as the funnel to the talent pipeline.
[00:02:39.660]We need more students than ever to enter the
[00:02:42.963]agriculture profession across the board.
[00:02:45.900]And agriculture teachers are the best way to get
[00:02:48.690]more students interested in ag and to help them
[00:02:51.424]see a future in the agriculture industry.
[00:02:53.760]Matt, on that note, for those folks who are
[00:02:56.149]graduating here in just a couple of months from
[00:02:58.756]college, and maybe they don't have an ag ed career
[00:03:01.526]lined up yet, how difficult is it to maybe move
[00:03:04.133]out of their home state where they've trained and
[00:03:06.848]receive their teacher certification to come to a
[00:03:09.510]state like Nebraska, to maybe fill one of those positions.
[00:03:14.010]We are open to people from all sorts of
[00:03:15.846]backgrounds, including if they're trained out of
[00:03:18.096]state to come to Nebraska.
[00:03:19.290]If they have questions, or they can contact me at
[00:03:21.808]the university, also through the Department of Ed
[00:03:24.326]and we'll help them get a find a pathway to
[00:03:26.542]teaching in Nebraska.
[00:03:27.600]All right. Well, thank you very much for your
[00:03:29.797]insight today. University of Nebraska Associate
[00:03:32.091]Professor Matt Kreifels joining us today.
[00:03:34.050]We appreciate your time.
[00:03:35.010]Go online to unl.edu for more information.
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