The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Agriculture Education Teacher

Agriculture Education Teacher

From the Farmer's Tractor

October 29, 2014

Jillian Beaty, 37, is an Agriculture Education Teacher at Oregon High School in Oregon, Wisconsin. She has been an agriculture education teacher for the past 15 years, and is currently serving a two-year term in the Partners in Agricultural Leadership (PAL) program of the American Farm Bureau Federation. Her primary goal for enrolling in the PAL program was to help develop her students’ confidence to talk about agricultural issues.

How did you get into teaching agriculture?

I decided to become an agriculture teacher after competing in the FFA Creed speaking contest. One of the speaking judges, also an agriculture teacher, made that frightening public speaking experience one that I actually enjoyed. In that moment, I wanted to help make a difference for young agricultural leaders as well. 

How has farming education changed over the last 10 years?

Agriculture education continues to evolve. In the past 10 years, I have incorporated science standards into three of my agriculture classes. Students not only develop competencies in agriculture, but also gain science credit as well. In addition, I utilize online resources for testing, group projects, and discussions.

How will farming education evolve in the next five years?

Agriculture education will continue to evolve as education evolves. In the next five years, I look for us to lead education in personalized learning. Since the creation of vocational agriculture classes, agriculture teachers have focused on the individual’s needs, helping them develop a supervised agriculture experience program around their career goals.  

What is your greatest challenge as an educator?

My greatest challenge as an educator in this field is keeping current with issues and trends. As an elective course, I need to make my course relevant in order to maintain enrollment. More importantly, I am a gateway of knowledge for the country’s largest and most important industry of agriculture. An exciting part of my job is introducing students to agriculture and its potential as a career option for them. 

Do your students grow and sell agricultural products, and if so, what is the process?

My students raise a variety of spring flowers. These are sold to community members and local businesses. In addition, students raise hydroponic lettuce and tomatoes that are utilized in the school cafeteria. Our process is by word of mouth and open house.  

What kinds of reactions do you get from consumers when they meet you in person? 

Most of our consumers are delighted to see the product of our students’ learning. Our customers are thrilled to support the public schools and observe education in action. Our open house is an awesome way for our future agriculture leaders to begin conversations about agriculture practices. The dialogue between students and community members has been positive for all involved! My students are more confident with their voice in agriculture. Our community members gain insights into current practices and trends in agriculture.