TIFTON-The Agricultural Education and Communication Department at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College recently added more awards to its already crowded collection.
Earlier this month, the department was named the Outstanding Post Secondary Agriculture Program by Georgia Vocation Agriculture Teachers Association (GVATA).
The award recognizes the efforts that the department has had in addressing the agriculture teacher shortage, their preparation of highly skilled graduates, and quick starter agriculture teachers.
“The Department of Agricultural Education and Communication at ABAC has continued to grow its agricultural education program, transforming quality students into teachers,” said GVATA President Rick DuBose. “The programs and activities that college students are involved in are truly preparing them for success as agriculture teachers. We thank ABAC and congratulate them on the NAAE Outstanding Post Secondary Award.”
This marks the fifth year that graduates are also certified by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC). To date, ABAC Ag Ed has prepared over 150 new teachers now working in the public schools.
In May, ABAC Ag Ed graduated its largest cohort class of future agriculture teachers with 44 graduates.
Also, over 90 percent of those graduates have secured a teaching position and are ready to start the 2023-2024 school year, according to Dr. Andrew Thoron, ABAC’s Agricultural Education and Communication department head.
“The Department of Agricultural Education and Communication has been the largest producer of agriculture teachers in the state since its inception and has experienced program growth over the past five years, making it the largest program of its kind east of the Mississippi River,” Thoron said.
This program, in addition to being the largest in the Southeast, is also the first program in the country to offer Elementary Agriculture as an endorsement through the GaPSC, of which ABAC is an accredited institution.
Following the school’s graduation ceremony in May, a pinning ceremony is held where students are recognized for their student teaching efforts and submission for credentials that will be awarded by the GaPSC.
Agricultural Education at ABAC prepares students to work in an education-related career. The wide variety of courses allow students to specialize in agriculture and natural resources while learning about the education profession through on-campus laboratories and training facilities. Instruction is also provided in curriculum development, instructional methods, community programs, and other content courses designed for future teachers and community educators.
Additionally, three ABAC Ag Ed faculty have received awards recently.
Dr. Frank Flanders (ABAC Associate Professor Emeriti) was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award by the GVATA at its recent annual conference. Flanders was a member of the ABAC faculty from 2017 until his retirement last year.
Also, Dr. Farish Mulkey, an Assistant Professor in the department, received the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACATA) Educator Award. NACATA is an international professional organization that promotes research, discovery, and professional development in teaching agriculture.
In May, Dr. Sallie McHugh received the ABAC Donaldson Teaching Award of Excellence.