Agricultural Education Aims to Create Leaders

August 5, 2013 (Independence, IA) – August is an exciting month for Jr./Sr. High School students in the Independence Community School District (ICSD). On August 19th they will start classes in a brand new state-of-the art Jr./Sr. High School equipped with some of the best learning technology available. While the new building is certainly exciting, it is not the only new endeavor for ICSD.

Students in grades 7-12 now have an opportunity to become involved in a revitalized Agricultural Education Program. The program has been absent from the ICSD curriculum for the last 50 years, but its back, and in a big way!  The ICSD has welcomed Rachael Emig as the Agricultural Education Program instructor. “My family has long been involved in the agricultural industry. I grew up in East/Central Iowa raising and showing beef cattle and was extremely active in Linn County 4-H as well as other agricultural organizations. During college I was able to learn about International Agriculture by traveling to Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.  My internship experiences with Iowa State University Extension and DuPont Pioneer gave me applicable industry experience working with others and educating them on agricultural practices,” said Emig.

The ICSD Agriculture Education Program is made up of three parts; Classroom Instruction, Supervised Agricultural Experience and the FFA.

Classroom instruction introduces relevant information surrounding the careers, commodities and growth of the agricultural industry. This school year the following courses will be taught: Introduction to Agriculture, Animal Science, Agronomy, Horticulture, Agricultural Issues & Perceptions and an Exploratory Agriculture class for seventh graders. These courses will be hands-on application based classes and will benefit all students regardless of past experience or knowledge of the agricultural industry.

A Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) is something that each student enrolled in agriculture education classes will take part in. It is a chance for students to achieve work-based learning experience and to build up career skills. An example of an SAE may be working at Fareway part-time, working on the family farm or completing an agricultural job-shadow experience. Each SAE will be different depending on the student but is focused on making each student more career ready following high school graduation.

Lastly, the National FFA Organization makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership personal growth and career success. The FFA provides over 30 career development events in a competitive setting on the sub-district, district and state level for students to apply their personal knowledge and skills while largely increasing their leadership, communication and team-building skills.

“Any student enrolled in an Agriculture Education course will have the ability to be active in the FFA. This year I am going to strongly encourage any student who is interested in learning more about the FFA and its opportunities to speak with me and get involved in any activities that may be taking place on the school and community level throughout the school year,” added Emig.

Before FFA activities can begin to take place ICSD must first begin classes. Once school is in session and communication can begin with students they can begin the process of establishing a chapter. There are a few steps to becoming an officially chartered chapter that will be accomplished this fall. In the meantime, FFA meetings, events and a variety of leadership opportunities will be presented. Emig stressed the following, “Another valuable note to make about the FFA is that it is a very student-driven organization. This will give students the chance to step up to organize and implement events they personally feel will be beneficial to other students and the community. I am really looking forward to see the creativity of our students and see them grow as leaders!”

Currently there are 146 students registered for an agriculture education course. This number also includes students who have signed up for multiple agriculture classes throughout the year. Emig is definitely ready to dive into the job, “I know myself and many people are very excited to see such an interest in these courses and are looking forward to the diverse background of each student and the opportunity to show them the variety of ways they can get involved in the program!”

If you have questions regarding the Independence Community School District’s Agricultural Education Program, please contact Rachael Emig at or (319) 334-7400.


Media Contact
Jenny Yoder, Fusion Forward