Dedicated Funds to Help Address Significant Ag Educator Shortage in Iowa
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa —Feb. 20, 2023- The National Association of Agricultural Educators reports mounting losses of ag educators since 2015, significantly limiting ag education opportunities for the next generation of Iowa’s agriculturalists and threatening Iowa’s national status as a leader in agriculture. To help combat the crisis and reverse the decline in ag educators, the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) has pledged $1 million to Iowa FFA, with a portion of the funds dedicated to its ‘All in for Ag Education’ strategic initiative.
Since 2015, Iowa has lost 204 ag educators to retirement and other pursuits, including losing teachers to neighboring states with more competitive teaching contracts. The ag teacher shortage is at a critical point today, with nearly half of net instructor losses within the past two years. In addition to recruiting, training, and retaining ag educators, the FFA ‘All in for Ag’ campaign outlines a goal of ag education access for 100% of Iowa high school students by 2029.
“Iowa agriculture is a national leader in so many areas of production: corn, pigs, eggs, ethanol and biofuel, and in conservation: water quality wetlands, bioreactors, grassed waterways, buffer strips, pollinator habitat and conservation tillage. Our state depends on the next generation of youth to fill critical roles in agriculture to maintain that status and provide solutions to a growing global population. Without qualified ag educators to train and inform young people of future career opportunities in agriculture, we lose out as a state – and nation,” said Iowa Farm Bureau President Brent Johnson.
“Iowa Farm Bureau has been one of the Iowa FFA Foundation’s longest and most dedicated supporters, and we are so grateful for this gift that will have a lasting and meaningful impact in communities across the state,” said Josh Remington, Iowa FFA Foundation executive director. “IFBF’s support will allow us to tackle our state’s ag educator crisis head-on and remove hurdles to attract and retain talent so we can deliver valuable opportunities to Iowa’s next generation of leaders.”
IFBF has supported Iowa FFA for decades and serves as the presenting sponsor of the annual FFA Leadership Conference. Iowa Farm Bureau’s support has allowed Iowa FFA to keep annual dues and State Leadership Convention registration fees consistent for the past 15 years, even during times of inflation and rising costs for other youth programs and activities.
“Supporting youth and education is a pillar of IFBF’s mission, and we are proud to lead the ‘All in for Ag Education’ campaign through this gift to grow opportunities for the next generation of Iowa leaders,” said Johnson. “Agriculture is the backbone of Iowa, and if current trends hold true, one in five Iowa students will have a career supported by agriculture. We know ag education opportunities for high school youth can have a profound impact on their future, and we feel this support is mission critical to the future of Iowa agriculture.”
Donations to the Iowa FFA Foundation through February 2025 are eligible for a 50% match. To learn more about ag education opportunities in Iowa and the ‘All in for Ag Education’ campaign and 50% donation match, visit www.IowaFFAFoundation.org.