b'AGRICULTUREA GROWINGAg WorkforceEnhancing STEM learning for K-12 has helped propel interest inFor many years, there has been a national shortage of agricultural careers.agricultural education teachers, and Georgia is no different, Kistler says. Before ABACs agricultural education degree, Agriculture is STEM, says Kistler. Every aspect of theonly the University of Georgia and Fort Valley State University agricultural and natural resources industries includes science,had programs. Combined, they couldnt fill half of the open technology, engineering, and math. ag education positions in Georgia. ABAC now has the largest The U.S. currently has millions of unfilled STEM jobs, and a 2019agricultural education program in the Southeast.federal report estimates 3.5 million STEM jobs will need to beGeorgias schools have offered agricultural courses at middle and staffed by 2025. high schools for decades and are now expanding to elementary LANDON ROWE, ABACAny job that deals with agricultural technology is going to beschools.in high demand, Kistler says. Data drives agriculture from theAs part of a three-year pilot program that started in 2019, technology in the tractors and equipment, and it allows farmersstudents in more than 20 elementary schools across the state to be precise in the application of fertilizer, herbicides, andare receiving lessons on animal and plant science and available water.career options in agriculture and natural resources.Kistler says the agricultural technology and systemsABAC is the first program in the nation to offer instruction management track within the Bachelor of Science in Agricultureto prepare graduates to teach agricultural classes at the Outdoor Labs: Students receive hands-on equipment experience at ABACs Turfgrass Research and Teaching Plots. is a growing pathway and produces graduates for the high- pre-kindergarten through the fifth-grade level, adding to its demand career field.agricultural teacher certification program for grades sixth Future of Ag Since technology is an important aspect of both the agriculturalthrough 12.According to Kistler, the agricultureWith this continual shift, Kistler says theevaluated to make sure they are relevantand natural resources industries, its weaved throughout all of industry has changed tremendously inSANR makes the necessary curriculumto the current and future trends inKistler says enrollment within the SANR continues to expand, our degree programs, says Kistler.and students are coming from across the Southeast.the past 10 to 20 years. Advancementsadjustments to meet industry demands.the agricultural and natural resources in technology, including precisionindustries. Closing The Gender GapAdvancements in technology willMost of our students come from Georgia; however, we are now agriculture and genetic engineering,Once considered a male-dominated industry, the number ofseeing more from Florida, Alabama, and South Carolina, he along with trade and labor policies,continue to impact our programs,females seeking agriculture degrees is on the rise. In 1980, only he says. All of our degrees and thesays. ABACs tuition is extremely economical, and our students natural disasters, and social media, haveone-third of all agricultural science degrees in the U.S. went tobenefit from small class sizes, interaction with the faculty, and all impacted agriculture. associated courses are continuallyfemales. Forty years later, women make up more than half the our hands-on approach to education. graduates.The gender shift is evident within SANRs enrollment, with females representing 42 percent, up from 24 percent in 2011. New programs, including the Bachelor of Science in agricultural Any job that deals with agricultural technology iscommunication and agricultural education, have heavily skewed going to be in high demand. Data drives agriculturefemale enrollment with 78 percent and 71 percent, respectively. LANDON ROWE, ABACOther degree programs with a higher proportion of female from the technology in the tractors and equipment,students include agribusiness and agriculture, 37 percent and 45 and it allows farmers to be precise in the applicationpercent, respectively.of fertilizer, herbicides, and water. Head of the ClassABACs Bachelor of Science in agricultural education is moving - DR. MARK KISTLER to the head of the class. Approved by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission in 2018, the popular program jumpedWorking Farm: The J.G. Woodroof Farm is one of ABACs from 26 to 212 students within three years.outdoor teaching facilities.LANDON ROWE, ABAC14 SG MAGAZINE | SPRING 2021 BUSINESS + CULTURE 15'