Story by Mikhayla DeMott, (ACJ)
The agricultural industry faces many challenges every day and constantly. One issue that may be overlooked by some is the shortage of agriculture teachers available. Like every problem, this too has a solution and the agricultural education program at Kansas State University is taking major leaps to bridging this gap.
The Teach Ag Students of Kansas program, also known as the TASK Force, is a group of agricultural education students that travel the state of Kansas to recruit future agriculture educators. This group was established in the 2015-2016 school year and is now in its third year. Each May, seven new members are selected, while one student carries over into the next year, making it an even eight-member team. The student serving in their second year is tasked with overseeing the other students and is in charge of campus activities.
Eric Koehlmoos, third year AGED student, is the 2017-2018 delegate serving in this managing role. Koehlmoos, an Iowa native, enjoys the opportunity to enhance his knowledge and understanding of Kansas agriculture and Kansas FFA.
“I have loved getting a better grip on Kansas and FFA,” Koehlmoos says. “It is a great experience to see the different communities and the potential jobs available.”
Task Force has divided Kansas into seven regions: northeast, north central, northwest, southeast, south central, southwest and east central. In Koehlmoos’s first year he oversaw the northeast district and now mentors the other TASK Force members in managing their individual regions. In this role, Koehlmoos has the big picture in mind.
“The goal of this organization is to increase the number of agriculture educators by traveling around Kansas to create more exposure for the profession,” Koehlmoos says.
Though the overarching goal is to shine light on agricultural education and to recruit future educators, each district operates a little differently. Primarily, each representative has duties comprised of traveling to high schools to present scholarships and recruit potential agricultural teachers.
This year’s team includes Eric Koehlmoos, Sydney Cullison, Zachary Callaghan, Hannah Fry, Trent Johnson, Trenton Smedley, Matt Schick, and Allison Dix.
TASK Force is a subsidiary of the Agricultural Education Club and Brandie Disberger, AGED instructor, is the advisor for both. She leads these students that are pursuing their passion through helping others find theirs in agricultural education.
“It is exciting to have a student led recruitment effort for agricultural education and I hope that the team members gain as much from the experience as they give back through their recruitment efforts,” Disberger says.