Smith, C., Sorensen, T., Burrows, M., and Lawver, R. (2020). Pioneering spirit: Examining the motives and experiences of non-SBAE students majoring in agricultural education. Journal of Agricultural Education, 61(3), 164-181. https://doi.org/10.5032/jae.2020.03164

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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