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UF/IFAS faculty co-launch virtual conference for supporters of early-career agriculture teachers

By Jarred Shellhouse

Supporters of early-career agriculture teachers across the United States are encouraged to register for a new digital conference hosted by the University of Florida department of agricultural education and communication and the Ohio FFA Association.

The Supporters of Beginning Agriculture Teachers Digital Conference aims to bring individuals together to share ideas and help new agriculture teachers succeed. The national conference will take place from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., June 1 through June 4.

“There are people around the nation who work to support beginning agriculture teachers,” said Tre Easterly, assistant professor of agricultural education at UF/IFAS. “We all want these teachers to be successful in their careers. This conference will allow us to get together, share ideas and find ways to foster support and success for our new teachers.”

The conference will be delivered in a completely digital format using Zoom, a video communication software. Registration for the conference is free, and interested individuals may register until May 31.

“Agriculture teachers face many unique challenges as they jump into a career in which they need to navigate classroom teaching, advise an FFA chapter and help students create their own agriculture projects,” said Brian Myers, professor and chair of the UF/IFAS department of agricultural education and communication. “Those teachers are also asked to do that while finding a work-life balance. So, it is crucial that they feel supported at their school in order to succeed.”

Richard Ingersoll, professor of education and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, will be delivering the keynote address. Ingersoll is a leading expert on America’s teaching workforce and has delivered more than 250 keynote addresses to researchers, education officials and teachers, among others.

In addition to the keynote address, the conference will feature a beginning teacher panel, teacher support round tables and presentations about how current agricultural education programs are being supported.

Once registered, participants will receive information about software and attending the conference via email.

The UF/IFAS department of agricultural education and communication, housed in the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, prepares students for successful careers as teacher educators. Nearly 100 percent of graduates searching for a career in agricultural education earn a teaching position within six months of graduation from the program.

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