ATLANTA – The Agricultural Education Outreach program, part of the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in Ithaca, N.Y. is one of only six programs nationwide who received the National Association of Agricultural Educators Outstanding Cooperation Award on November 30 at the NAAE annual convention in Atlanta. Dr. Travis Park is the director.
The Agricultural Education Outreach program at Cornell was created 15 years ago to provide appreciation and understanding of agriculture to students in New York. The AEO primarily connects with students through participation in schools, and helping teachers in their professional development to challenge learners to achieve their greatest potential.
In order to support new agriculture teachers, the AEO coordinates a mentoring program that pairs new teachers with more seasoned agriculture teachers as mentors. This support supplies teachers with curriculum and lesson plans, classroom instruction techniques, and ideas to promote FFA and student leadership. Through the National FFA Organization and USDA, AEO was able to secure $47,500 in grants for alternative energy education at 14 schools, giving teachers, new and old an opportunity to keep abreast of current agriculture topics.
The AEO has also provided nearly 18,000 hours in leadership training for students, reaching nearly 6,000 individuals annually. One of these training events is the Fall Leaders Conference in October. Agricultural educators and their FFA chapter presidents and vice presidents are invited to network with each other, share ideas and collaborate. The conference includes current agricultural education issue discussions and facilitated networking sessions for students.
“Without the Cornell Agricultural Education Outreach, agricultural education in the state of New York would not be what it is today, especially the professional development of agriculture teachers,” said Tara Berescik, an agriculture instructor in New York and nominator of the Cornell Agricultural Education Outreach.
Each of the six regional Outstanding Cooperation Award winners received a plaque. NAAE is the professional association for agricultural educators. Its mission is “professionals providing agricultural education for the global community through visionary leadership, advocacy and service.” The NAAE office is located in Lexington, Ky.