Senate Bill 330 or the “Green Agricultural Education Act” was signed by Governor Nathan Deal at the 90th Georgia FFA Convention on April 27, 2018. The purpose of this bill is to develop and implement agricultural education in elementary schools. The bill also provided for the Professional Standards Commission to extend in-field certification for agricultural education to include kindergarten through the fifth grade.
Nineteen elementary schools signed up to be a part of the Georgia Elementary Agricultural Education Pilot Program, many of which are in close proximity to the home of the Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition in Moultrie. Westside Elementary in Lowndes County, Hamilton Elementary and J.M. Odom Elementary in Colquitt County, and Shiver Elementary and Whigham Elementary in Grady County are just a few of the elementary schools serving as the trailblazers for this program.
Many high school and middle school agricultural education students are familiar with the three components that make up their agricultural education program. Classroom instruction, Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) and student organization (FFA) are all parts of the three-ring agricultural education model. However, the elementary school based agricultural education model looks slightly different. Its components consist of classroom/laboratory instruction, experiential learning, and personal and leadership development.
Christa Steinkamp, Curriculum and Technology Director for the Georgia FFA, says that the benefits of the program are multi-faceted. The program gives students an earlier introduction to the wide world of agriculture and all that it has to offer. Through the Agricultural Education Elementary Program, students can understand the value of agriculture in the state of Georgia and all of Georgia’s communities.
“There has been a definite increased interest in agricultural education since the elementary agricultural education pilot program legislation was passed, and we started this program,” says Steinkamp.
A major influencer of the program has been the Georgia Farm Bureau. The Farm Bureau’s mobile ag classroom has added to the excitement of the program and provided new learning opportunities. Any elementary school in the state can submit an application and become a part of the pilot program. A major component of the elementary ag education curriculum framework is leadership. With the help of the Georgia Farm Bureau and the amazing ag ed teachers, this program will produce exceptional agricultural students as well as future agricultural leaders.
Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College is giving the program a boost by adding a K-5 curriculum component for its Agricultural Education majors beginning in the summer of 2021.