Career Snapshots: Education
- Cooperative Extension: extension agent or specialist in 4-H, agriculture, family and consumer sciences, or food systems
- Educator (primary, secondary, or higher education): agriculture, nutrition and health, family and consumer sciences
Cooperative Extension Service Professional: Extension Agent
As an extension agent, you will play many roles for many types of people in your community, such as teacher, leader, organizer, and advocate. You will work to provide learning experiences that empower and help bring change to improve the lives of the local community and their families around critical issues, including healthy lifestyles and new agricultural practices.
People who work in cooperative extension ask important questions and find answers to problems that affect quality of life. They help people and families by making communities better places to live. They are called cooperative extension or county extension agents or 4-H/youth development agents. Extension agents teach people about better ways to manage their farms, live healthier lives, and improve their communities. They offer classes and teach young people and adults to be good leaders. They also organize 4-H activities and help people who come to them for advice.
Extension agents are often assigned to one or multiple parishes or counties. Each parish or county houses agents with different areas of expertise, such as agriculture, horticulture, family and consumer sciences, and extension education. Agents are actively involved in providing outreach programs targeting their audience, which could be 4-H clubs, youth, adults, farmers, gardeners, and others. They will train leaders to teach classes or conduct their own classes based on the community’s interests. At all times, agents are backed up by a large state land grant university (such as Louisiana State University or Southern University) that provides instructional materials for use in youth and adult education, nutrition education, and 4-H classes. The university also keeps agents informed of new research and development for them to share in their county or community.
Education and Training
The level of education can vary depending on the level of role as well as your area of expertise. You will need at least a bachelor’s degree to become a cooperative extension agent in subject areas like family and consumer sciences, agriculture, and extension education. More advanced extension positions require a master’s or doctorate degree. Learn more about this career path with the Agricultural and Extension Education concentration at Louisiana State University.
As an educator you have the unique opportunity to influence and inspire the next generation. You will prepare and educate students for the world, as you encourage curiosity and continued improvement. This can be especially true in middle and high school when more complex subjects are introduced, such as agriculture and family and consumer science. Through these subjects, you can motivate students to become leaders in industries that affect every person’s life in one way or another.
Agriculture educators teach the next generation about the future of our food supply. Their instruction happens both in the classroom and in the field, developing lesson plans and instructional materials on improving the quality of and developing strategies to manage agriculture, food and natural resources. Agriculture teachers may lead their classes through laboratory experiments on greenhouse, farm, meat and feeding centers, maintaining a school garden, or conducting field visits. Agriculture teachers are able to apply many disciplines to student learning, including science, business, and technology of plant and animal production, as well as the environmental and natural resources systems. They cultivate students to become farmers, business owners, scientists, and pursue other careers in agriculture. Many agriculture teachers incorporate FFA (Future Farmers of America), a multi-discipline student organization for those interested in agriculture and leadership. FFA is one of the three components of agricultural education. The National Council for Agricultural Education is the main leadership organization for shaping and strengthening school-based agricultural education at all levels in the United States.
Family and consumer science educators focus on the science and art of living and working well. They teach children and youth how to prepare their futures as family members and professionals. They instruct middle and high school students about eating healthy meals, how to manage money, and how to sew and design clothing. This instruction helps students to form better friendships, create stronger families, and better care for their children so they grow up healthy and strong. Family and consumer science educators may also teach adults about nutrition and food safety, retirement planning, consumer economics, and family relationships.
Family and consumer sciences education is a broad program that empowers individuals and families across the life span to manage the challenges of living and working in a diverse, global society. Teaching in this field also helps develop critical thinking skills through practical applications in real-life situations. As a family and consumer science educator, you will turn students into accomplished problem-solvers and informed decision makers, able to assume their places in the family and in the economic workforce as effective producers and consumers.
Education and Training
Educators need a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, family and consumer science, child and family studies, or other similar majors. Along with a degree, additional education courses and practice teaching to obtain a teaching certificate is necessary. Studies can continue in a graduate program to pursue careers in food and nutrition, agriculture, research, supervisory positions, and college teaching.
Learn more about this career path with the Agricultural and Extension Education concentration at Louisiana State University. These schools offer specific Family and Consumer Science degrees: Southern University, Nicholls State University, and Southeastern Louisiana University.