Educating Our Nation's Workforce
NIFA supports education and workforce development programs that empower the Ag science, technology, engineering, and mathematics workforce with the knowledge and skills needed by the global agricultural industry to address challenges and capitalize on future opportunities.
NIFA-supported Agriculture in the Classroom's K-12 curriculum website had over 336,000 visitors (an increase of 26 percent over 2017), 30 percent of whom accessed 405 standards-based lesson plans and 785 companion resources. At the post-secondary level, AFRI supported about 940 undergraduates, 995 graduates, and 617 postdoctoral students. The AFRI-funded Professional Development Opportunities for Secondary School Teachers Program awarded $3.1 million to train 950 educators, which will impact up to 70,000 K-14 students over the next three years.NIFA-funded programs supported 104,149 students through recruitment/retention, curriculum development, and faculty development. Over the past 15 years, NIFA has provided each state an average of $910,000 per year in support of education and workforce development programs. The states, on average, have leveraged those NIFA funds to $7.7 million per year, for an average return-on-investment of $8.46 per dollar.
Bioinformatics and New Standards for the 21st Century - Bioinformatics is a computer-based approach to biological research, including disease understanding, drug-development, and low-cost production of healthy agricultural items. To keep pace with scientific and technological advances and the need for students to receive training on bioinformatics, Fort Valley State University implemented a new curriculum that integrates hands-on experiential learning with state-of-the-art technology and prepared faculty. To date, more than 200 students have received introductory and advanced bioinformatics training.
Teaching Teachers in Agricultural Science Education - The National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE in Lexington, Kentucky) is taking steps to address the industry-recognized lack of agriculture professionals. To help meet that need, the NAAE-managed Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education increased access to hands-on, rigorous courses in agricultural education. In 2018, 22 teachers from around the country earned scholarships and lab resources. Ultimately, 1,320 students will explore agriculture issues that focus on biotechnology, food science, and safety.
Ho'ohiapo: Renewing Ancestral Education in Agroecology - University of Hawaii created the Ho'ohiapo Network to lift up indigenous approaches to education and youth development in a peer-to-peer fashion. Ho'ohiapo's goal is to increase the number of Native Hawaiian youth who enroll in higher education, specifically an applied science degree program in sustainable community food systems. If successful, the program will result in a more ancestral approach to food sustainability in the islands.
Opportunities in Agriculture - Austin Community College created its Opportunities in Agriculture program to increase the number of underrepresented students who earn associate of science degrees in agriculture and in sustainable agriculture. The project supports 48 students directly through enrollment in the new courses, 40 through scholarships and stipends, and an additional 50 students during its "Agricultural Career Day" to promote a career in agricultural science.