Oregon Ag in the Classroom’s first ever Agricultural Career Expo, held at last year’s Northwest Ag Show, was a hit. And Jessica Jansen, executive director of Oregon AITC, said to expect a return performance.
“I think it was a very successful event, especially for the first time,” Jansen said. “We received great feedback from the teachers and the students.”
The event included presentations on career opportunities in agriculture and one-on-one meetings with agricultural professionals, many of whom were on hand at the Ag Show and volunteered to participate in the expo.
“We received really good feedback from the professionals, as well,” Jansen said. “They said they enjoyed the opportunities to talk with students and expose them to opportunities within their own company and in agriculture as a whole.”
The Agricultural Career Expo is part of a larger shift within the national Ag in the Classroom program to familiarize high school students with agriculture. Oregon AITC chose four Salem-area high schools to concentrate on last year, inviting students from Cascade, Central, Amity and McKay high schools. Approximately 165 students participated.
The Agricultural Career Expo was launched as part of a Specialty Crop Block Grant that also included funding for creating a pamphlet and video on career opportunities in agriculture. Oregon AITC uses those resources at events throughout the year, Jansen said, and teachers interested in accessing the pamphlet or the video are encouraged to contact the program at its Oregon State University headquarters by calling 541-737-8629 or going online to https://oregonaitc.org/resources/.
Jansen noted that in addition to the success of the career expo, Ag in the Classroom had a great year in the 2018-19 school year.
“We are up on all of our student and educator reach,” she said. “Last school year we reached approximately 3,300 educators and 239,000 students.”
Among other highlights, the program also trained 270 educators in regional workshops last year and ramped up its Washington County program. “That has been a huge area of growth for the program,” Jansen said.
Jansen said Oregon AITC hopes to continue putting on the Agricultural Career Expo at the Northwest Ag Show well into the future.
“As long as the Ag Show allows us to partner with them, we will do this,” she said. “That partnership really determines the success of this event. Not only does it allow us the opportunity to have this space, but it also has the component of having ag professionals right there and ready to share with students. Otherwise, it would be challenging to get folks to take time out of their busy schedules to come to something like this.
“We consider this a great partnership,” she said.