During my Master of Science program in Agricultural Education, I had the opportunity to complete a major project for the Agriculture Department. My graduation requirement was researching and developing a survey in reference to “A Stakeholder Input Regarding the Development of a Business and Industry Option for the M.S. Agricultural Education Program at Iowa State University.”
As the United States continues to focus its attention on preparing a competent workforce that is able to adjust and adapt to the continuous changes that are occurring on an international level, attention has been placed on Agricultural Education Programs. This, in turn, highlights the increasing need for institutions of higher education to prepare graduates for the demands of industry (Martin, Milne-Home, Barrett, Spalding, & Jones, 2000). Therefore, the higher education arena is being looked upon to prepare individuals for the workforce (Martin et al., 2000). Because graduates of university agricultural education programs enter professions outside of school-based teaching (Cartmell & Garton, 2000), researchers warn against agricultural education programs becoming too narrowly focused (Bender, 1977). Graduates of these programs are only prepared for careers in educational settings. This sentiment has not changed. In fact, Scanlon, Bruening, and Cordero (1996) stated, “If agricultural education programs are to survive, they must be dynamic and able to adjust to new situations and environments that help to improve the on-the-job effectiveness of future graduates” (p. 1). The Agricultural Education Program, as it stands, runs the risk of focusing too narrowly, thus preparing graduates that may not be equipped with the essential skills, competencies and experiences needed to be competitive in an ever-changing workforce.
This is where Iowa State University wanted to make an impact. With Iowa State University as an 1862 Land Grant Institution, it is essential that graduates of the aforementioned program not only be prepared to enter educational institutions and corporations, but that the university’s graduates are also prepared to assume positions in the business and industry section of agriculture. The purpose of this project was to develop evaluation materials to determine if there was a need for a Business and Industry option within the Master’s of Agricultural Education curriculum at Iowa State University and identify potential topics that could be included in such an option. This, in return, falls perfectly within the Assessment Competency.