The United States Department of Agriculture predicts 52,000 agriculture-related job openings for college graduates will be needed in 2010â€”including those needed to teach ag science at the high school and college level.
As part of National Teach Ag Day observances on February 25, communities across the nation were asked to consider the teachers that will be needed to prepare students for the increasing number and complexity of agriculture-related jobs expected to be available in the United States.
The United States Department of Agriculture predicts 52,000 ag-related job openings for college graduates will be needed in 2010â€”even as the country finds its national unemployment rate hovering near 10 percent. Available jobs are expected in areas such as food, animal and environmental science. Jobs including animal geneticists, biochemists, botanists and food engineers will be needed.
â€˜Perhaps most importantlyâ€”we will need qualified teachers to prepare students for these increasingly sophisticated professions,â€™ said Jay Jackman, Ph.D., executive director of the National Association of Agricultural Educators.
Food, energy needs driving increase
World food demand is expected to increase 100 percent by 2050 due to a rapidly expanding population in countries such as China, India and the United States. And, yet 963 million people, 14 percent of the world’s population, are already chronically hungry.
â€˜To increase the supply of safe, nutritious and affordable food, we all share in the responsibility to ensure that those responsible for producing food have the knowledge required to do their jobs,â€™ said Jackman. â€˜For millions of people, it could be the difference between sustenance and starvation.â€™
Additional agricultural crops will also be needed to meet growing energy demands. For example, without biofuels such as ethanol produced from corn, the United States would have used 7.2 billion more gallons of gasoline in 2008. And, earlier this month President Barack Obama announced a series of steps his administration is taking to boost biofuel production to enhance America’s energy independence.
â€˜However, as we implement new technologies to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and increase food production, we also will need an increasing number of agricultural experts to help ensure this growth does not cause irreparable harm to the environment or compromise safety in the food supply chain,â€™ said Jackman.
Jackman said ag teachers will have enormous opportunities in the 21st century to contribute multifaceted, innovative solutions to the challenge of providing enough crops to feed the world and power the planet. â€˜But these challenges can’t just be the concerns of educatorsâ€”all citizens across the nation should advocate and support agricultural educationâ€”at both local and national levels so that we are preparing our youth for the challenges that await them.â€™