Arkansas high school students who do not plan to work in agriculture production can explore other career options in the business through a revamped curriculum created by the Dale Bumpers College of Agriculture, Food and Life Sciences.
Six agriculture programs in Arkansas are integrating the curriculum into their leadership and communications classes, as well as their Future Farmers of America chapters, said Leslie Edgar, associate professor of the Agriculture and Extension Education Department.
The curriculum is divided into modules that teach writing, design, multimedia and college prep, Edgar said.
“Faculty and staff selected the agricultural communications content and skill development lessons that could potentially benefits students in future college or career endeavors,” Edgar said.
The writing module teaches journalistic and public relations writing. Design focuses on photography and graphics. Multimedia addresses video editing, broadcast, social media use and Web design. The career module prepares students for college coursework.
High school students will work in groups, present projects, practice public speaking and explore career options in agricultural communications, Edgar said.
“Students who have participated in the curriculum will have a basic knowledge of the different aspects of agricultural communications,” she said. “It is our hope that students will be introduced to unique opportunities with the agricultural communications that they will pursue in college and their careers. We are improving their communication skills, which may increase their chances when competing for scholarship funding.”
High schools in Berryville, Conway, Hackett, Mulberry, Springdale and Taylor tested the curriculum in the spring semester. Teachers and students seemed to like the content, but limited technology was a problem for some schools, Edgar said.
One revision allowed teachers to apply for federal aid to buy equipment that would enhance visual instruction.
The curriculum was designed for Phase II of the Visual Communications on the Road in Arkansas program. Phase I created a two-week communications curriculum. Phase II, which runs until June 2014, expanded the curriculum to 16 weeks, with additional topics that include Web design, graphic design and careers, Edgar said.
Edgar plans to request assistance for Phase III, which will provide agriculture programs with technology, she said. Money for the project was provided by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
The curriculum is available on the Agriculture Education, Communications and Technology website. AECT faculty said they hope to see Agriculture Communications as a stand-alone course.