Changes threaten local ag education programs

ITHACA Agricultural education has a longstanding place in the curriculum, especially in Chenango County where agriculture is still a primary industry. Now, the persistence of agriculture education in the region and all across New York State faces a threat as Cornell University in Ithaca looks to cut its teacher certification programs.

Cornell is the only higher education institution in New York State that offers aspiring teachers a certification in agricultural education. Teacher certifications have been offered by the college since the 1900s; however, due to recent funding restraints, those programs, including ag ed, are likely to be dropped.

Elimination of the program is devastating to the ag ed market, say local educators, because teaching professionals who want to become certified in the ag ed field now have to look at out-of-state colleges something that could ultimately lead to fewer ag ed certified teachers in the state, and fewer ag ed programs in schools.

Presently, more than 200 public schools in New York State maintain an agriculture education program, including some schools in Chenango County. While many ag ed teachers are dual certified in biology and agriculture education, most agree that losing agriculture education certification programs at an accredited institution is potentially bad news for agriculture in the classroom.

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