Pioneering Spirit: Examining the Motives and Experiences of Non-SBAE Students Majoring in Agricultural Education


  • Colten J. Smith Weber High School
  • Tyson J. Sorensen Utah State University
  • Michelle Burrows Utah State University
  • Rebecca G. Lawver Utah State University



agricultural education, career choice, major, Non-traditional students, SBAE


With the national shortage of school-based agricultural education (SBAE) teachers and subsequent shortage of skilled workers in food, agriculture, and natural resources careers, more expansive recruitment and retention efforts are needed. Traditionally, preservice teachers in agricultural education originate from within SBAE, yet, some non-SBAE students still find their way to the agricultural education major with a desire to become SBAE teachers. The purpose of this bounded single case study was to understand the lived experiences of non-SBAE high school students majoring in agricultural education; specifically, the motives for majoring in agricultural education and the unique challenges associated with it. Documents were collected and interviews and observations over the course of one year were utilized to gather and analyze data. Researchers identified four major themes emerging from the data: a) Non-SBAE students are motivated by altruistic, intrinsic, and extrinsic values (three subthemes); b) non-SBAE pre-service teachers face common and unique challenges (two subthemes); c) faculty support is critical for persistence in the major; and d) non-SBAE students approach their career with uncertainty and caution. Implications and recommendations related to recruitment of youth and retention of non-SBAE preservice agriculture teachers are discussed.


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How to Cite

Smith, C. J., Sorensen, T. J., Burrows, M., & Lawver, R. G. (2020). Pioneering Spirit: Examining the Motives and Experiences of Non-SBAE Students Majoring in Agricultural Education. Journal of Agricultural Education, 61(3), 164–181.




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