By MADDISON BOOTH, Alabama Daily News
AUBURN, Ala. – The Alabama Community College System is working to train high school agriculture teachers to provide their students with a new agriculture industry credential.
The community college system is partnering with the Alabama Forestry Association and the Alabama Poultry and Egg Association on this project in order to meet the state’s increased need for agriculture workers.
“As early as 2026 the forestry industry in Alabama could have (a) 50% turnover simply due to retirement and age, so we want to create a pipeline of qualified workers who can continue to create viable career paths for themselves while also ensuring that agriculture educators have access to their community colleges for hands-on experience or more in-depth theory training for their students,” Maggie Pope, director of education for the Forest Workforce Training Institute within the Alabama Forestry Association, said Wednesday in a written statement.
The training certifies K-12 teachers to offer a maintenance technician credential to high school students who take agriculture-based classes. Students can use the credential to continue their agriculture education through dual enrollment at their local community college or to prepare for work in Alabama’s agriculture industry.
The poultry industry has a $15 billion economic impact on Alabama’s economy with over 86,000 workers, according to the APEA.
Likewise, the AFA stated that the economic output of the forestry industry for Alabama’s economy is $28.9 billion.
In late June, high school agriculture teachers from 25 school districts in the state began training at Auburn University to learn to teach the new credential. They will continue to train over the next year at Wallace Community College.
“Agriculture is an incredibly important industry to the state,” ACCS Chancellor Jimmy Baker said. “We’re proud this professional development opportunity through our community colleges will help ensure that the instruction they provide in the classroom will continue to develop trained professionals that Alabama’s agriculture industry needs.”