Celebrating National Teach Ag Day: ag education program rebuilds at UW
Laramie – With a new department head, new goals and fresh ideas on how to bring more opportunities to students, the UW agriculture education degree program has started a phase of rebuilding under the direction of new assistant professor in the secondary education department, J. Chris Haynes.
“We are in a building year right now and instituting some changes that have been planned,” comments Haynes. “We’re a fairly small program trying to look at being able to provide teachers to the state and the United States.”
A new leader
Haynes started at UW on July 15, 2011, after receiving his doctorate degree from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla. in agricultural education, communications and leadership. On receiving his bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, Haynes taught ag science and technology in Texas for 15 years.
“I felt like I had something to provide to higher education,” says Haynes of his motivation for obtaining his doctorate degree and moving to Wyoming. “This is my first year here at UW, and it will be a good place to be.”
Haynes adds that UW offers rigorous research responsibilities and the opportunity to work with a close-knit teacher base.
“I appreciate that eventually I will know all of the teachers in the state, and I am enjoying the opportunity to meet everyone,” says Haynes. “The students here have also really exhibited a drive to excel in what they want to do.”
Opportunities for students
Haynes describes the curriculum that agriculture education students undertake as rigorous and focused on teaching.
“We emphasize very stringently and rigorously the components of teaching in the content areas that they have chosen,” he says. “Their curriculum offers six different areas of emphasis.”
Students choose to concentrate on animal and veterinary science, agroecology, rangeland ecology and watershed management, soil science, agricultural communication and leadership or agricultural business, based on their personal interests.
The program also offers membership in the national professional honorary agricultural education organization Alpha Tau Alpha, to emphasize professional development.
The UW ag education degree program is continually developing with the goal of providing more opportunities for students.
“In addition to receiving a teaching certificate in ag education, we are looking at making changes so students can receive a certificate in biology,” explains Haynes. “This would provide an opportunity for students attending smaller high schools to receive a science credit through ag or opportunities for the teacher to teach biology, as well.”
Haynes adds that the addition of a biology certificate would provide opportunities for small schools that have fewer faculty members.
“We want to build our numbers and be able to provide students with skills that will benefit them, not only in the state of Wyoming, but nationally or internationally,” comments Haynes of the program. “We also want to provide them some opportunities to accomplish their desires in those areas.”
The program currently serves 39 students, and with a total of 48 agriculture education programs in high schools throughout the state, Haynes notes that UW is a good resource for potential hires at school through Wyoming.
“We have a moderate amount of students now, and we are looking to increase that drastically over the next few years,” he adds.
“Agriculture education at UW is alive and well, and we are really sincere about providing opportunities to those students that will allow them to excel,” says Haynes. “We provide a rigorous program with a little bit of a change in direction from where we were. We will keep with some of the things we have done in the past and provide some new outlets to be able to experience and benefit them from the future.”
Saige Albert is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.