TIFTON — Erin Pearce, a junior agricultural education major at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, is one of 18 students nationwide selected as a National Teach Ag Ambassador for the 2021-22 year.
“Serving as a National Teach Ag Ambassador is a way to encourage and inspire others to become agriculture teachers,” Pearce said. “I believe this year is going to be a whirlwind. I applied hoping that I could inspire others in the way those in the past did for me.”
A native of Cairo, Pearce found her passion for agricultural education during her time at Cairo High School, college officials said in a statement.
“I want to give to the kids of the future what my agriculture teachers gave to me,” Pearce said. “I want to give knowledge of the industry that affects more lives than any other. I want to give a haven to those that don’t have one but also to those who do.”
The 18 ambassadors will begin their training this summer to become advocates for agricultural education at the 94th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis Oct. 27-30. These students will represent the National Teach Ag Campaign at the convention as they promote agricultural education as a career choice.
"Ambassadors will utilize enthusiasm and personal stories to spread the mission of Teach Ag," college representatives said.
Pearce’s involvement in the children’s ministry at her hometown church sparked her interest in teaching, which she said is one of her two passions in life along with a love for agriculture.
“Over my middle school and high school career, I volunteered at local church camps and at my church’s children’s program,” Pearce said. “Agricultural education gives me a way to combine my two passions.”
After graduation from ABAC, Pearce said she wants to be employed as an agricultural education teacher near her hometown. She said she would be happy teaching any grade level of students.
The National Teach Ag Ambassador Program was developed to address the current, nationwide high demand for agriculture teachers.
“The need for agricultural teachers has only grown,” Pearce said. “Therefore, the Teach Ag campaign, along with the ambassador program, was formed.”
The need for agriculture teachers in the United States is the result of retirements, current program growth, new programs opening and current teachers who leave the profession to explore other opportunities, college officials said.
The ambassadors work to promote the need for high-quality and diverse agriculture teachers while at the National FFA Convention and throughout the following year at the state and local levels.
"We are extremely proud to have high-achieving student leaders like Erin in our program,” Dr. Sallie McHugh, assistant professor of agricultural education at ABAC, said. “She is the fourth ABAC student in the past four years to be selected for this leadership position. Our students have stepped forward and become leaders, not only in our college, but on the national level as well."
For the third consecutive year, ABAC was the top producer of graduates with bachelor’s degrees in agricultural education out of all colleges and universities east of the Mississippi River, college officials said.