High school graduates need more soft skills preparation to be successful in college majors and careers in food, agricultural, natural resources, and human sciences. Fueling the Mind, Feeding the World: Delivering Communication and Decision-Making Curricula to Secondary Agricultural Education Students was funded by USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture Secondary Education, Two-Year Postsecondary Education, and Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom Challenge Grants Program grant program in 2019.
Texas A&M University, Blinn College, and San Luis Obispo have collaborated to deliver enhanced context-specific communication and decision-making/problem-solving curricula to students enrolled in secondary agricultural education courses. In a Crawford, Lang, Fink, Dalton, and Fielitz’s (2011) study, students, faculty, alumni, and employers ranked communication and decision-making/problem-solving skills as the top two, most-desired soft skills. However, when rating students’ preparedness as it relates to soft skills, employers noted they were neither prepared nor unprepared. Therefore, the primary audience of FMFW is high school agricultural education students and teachers. The secondary audience is community college and university faculty and food, agricultural, natural resources, and human sciences employers.
The primary benefits for students and teachers are access to multidisciplinary, agricultural industry-driven, and adaptable curricula focused on formal soft-skill training at the high school level. More than 800,000 students are currently enrolled in formal agricultural education programs across the 50 states and three U.S. territories (National FFA Organization, 2018). In addition, there are nearly 11,000 middle and high school agricultural teachers seeking to provide quality instruction for students’ career and technical collegiate pursuits (NAAE, 2018). Providing adaptable, formal soft-skill curricula instruction is vital to enhancing human capital. Curricula will be distributed through the National Council of Agricultural Education, eXtension, and the National FFA Organization.
This project was supported by the Secondary Education, Two-Year Postsecondary Education, and Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom Challenge Grants Program no. 2019-38414-30265 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.