The budget impasse that Illinois grappled with for more than two years had a devastating impact, no matter where you lived in our state. With education programs being hit hard, it has been difficult for Illinois agriculture educators to meet their goals of educating students for an ever-changing agricultural industry. The budget impasse also made it difficult to recruit and retain agriculture education teachers in urban and rural districts.
The Illinois Association of Vocational Agriculture Teachers thanks Illinois Rep. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island, for standing up for agriculture education. Rep. Halpin understands the needs of the agricultural industry.
With approximately one in four jobs being generated by agriculture in Illinois, the industry continues to be affected by an agriculture education teacher shortage. Last year, four-year Illinois agriculture education programs graduated just over 20 students. Yet, agriculture education programs across Illinois had approximately 80 openings.
The agriculture education teacher shortage continues to affect the quality of education in rural and urban school districts. It is important Rep. Halpin supported funding for support programs and continuing education for agriculture education teachers to ensure these jobs are competitive with others in the industry.
Rep. Mike Halpin took the tough votes necessary to enact a full budget because he understood the importance of training agricultural leaders and the economic impact of our agriculture industry.
Editor’s note: Faber is legislative chairman, Illinois Association of Vocational Agriculture Teachers.