Examination of the Role of Grit in Agricultural Educator Recruitment and Retention
According to the U.S. Department of Education, there is a critical shortage of agricultural educators across the nation. An estimated 22% of new hires in agricultural education in 2016 were alternatively-licensed or non-licensed teachers. Agricultural education is the most prominent formal method for educating the general public about the food and fiber industry. The USDA has several newly formed priority areas to fund programs related to the recruitment, retention, and professional development of agricultural educators given this critical shortage. The concept of grit is a newly emerging concept in psychology and education. Angela Duckworth recently explained grit in a TED talk; now viewed more than 13 million times. High levels of grit have been linked to teacher retention and resilience for several general teaching fields (i.e. math, English, science). Research on grit is limited on the role of grit in the field of agricultural education. This project will allow examination of grit as a factor in recruitment and retention of agricultural educators. Data will be collected from agricultural educators in three states through descriptive surveys and semi-structured interviews of agricultural educators at various career stages including preservice, beginning, mid-career, veteran, and former teachers. Project results have potential for far-reaching impacts, as retention of agricultural educators could have applications in other education areas. Expected outcomes are a presentation at a major conference (American Association for Agricultural Education), a peer-reviewed publication (Journal of Agricultural Education), and preliminary data to support development of two USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grant proposals.