Pennsylvania Improves Access To Hands-On Agriculture Education

Pennsylvania is home to a $132.5 billion agricultural industry. As the industry continues to evolve and innovate, there is a need to fill some of the over 593,000 jobs.

PENNSYLVANIA STATE | In 2017, Pennsylvania created the Commission for Agricultural Education Excellence. Its goal was to develop and implement a statewide agricultural education plan to incorporate new technology to solve our current and future needs. The commission released its third biennial report today, which outlines its progress and provides its recommendations to move Pennsylvania forward.

“The agriculture industry cannot continue to feed the world without feeding the minds of our youth,” Secretary Redding said. “The innovative programs we’re seeing today are representative of an education that exposes students to the possibilities in agriculture, sparking their imaginations for how their curiosity, passions, and interests can be put to work in our industry. Across Pennsylvania, our programs are preparing an increasingly more diverse group of students who will be agile in adopting technology and solving the complex challenges that come with climate change.”

Farm managers, high-tech equipment mechanics, field biologists, entomologists, and veterinarians are just some of the over 593,000 industry-related positions necessary to adapt to climate challenges and ever-changing technology.

“From hydroponics to animal care, urban gardens to FFA, agriculture education opens up endless opportunities for students to engage in learning that will lead to meaningful, family-sustaining careers,” said Acting Secretary of Education Eric Hagarty. “The departments of Education and Agriculture, along with the Pennsylvania Commission for Agriculture Education, are committed to ensuring that learners across the commonwealth can take advantage of high-quality, engaging ag ed curriculum and programming in their school, no matter which city or town they call home.”

Since its inception, the Commission for Agricultural Education Excellence has accomplished the following:

  • The number of approved secondary agricultural education programs statewide grew from 131 to 178 since the commission’s inception, with five more pending approval.
  • They are hiring a dedicated, specialized commission staff with expertise in agriculture-focused career and technical education and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Assessing the state’s ag education Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) and implementing a strategic plan to address gaps has led to new Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) chapters in four urban high schools and Delaware Valley University.
  • They strengthened or renewed partnerships with Rodale Institute, the Food Policy Advisory Council, and other non-governmental entities specializing in urban and organic agriculture, and partnerships across the spectrum from traditional production agriculture, hardwoods and forest products, and “green,” or nursery product sectors to enrich their education initiatives.
  • They have built ties with the Franklin Institute to help develop student connections to ag careers in their initiatives.
  • They support the PA Career Ready Coalition and Remake Learning Day to increase agriculture career literacy for 7,000 students across the state.

More information about opportunities in agriculture is available at