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Cornell, Ithaca College offer ag education master’s

Cornell University and Ithaca College will offer a new Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) program to help meet growing demand for qualified agricultural educators. Students in the graduate program will earn a degree in agriculture education from Ithaca College in collaboration with Cornell Connect, a program of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS).

This unique M.A.T. in agriculture education combines the strength of an established, highly regarded education program at Ithaca College with the internationally recognized agricultural knowledge of Cornell, said Jeff Perry, education specialist in CALS School of Integrative Plant Science. Students will graduate with a strong knowledge of the agricultural education community while also being comfortable with their general education peers.

This cross-university partnership, unique in the United States, reflects CALS’ commitment to agricultural science education. “Our goal has been to expand opportunities for Cornell students to obtain teacher certification. This innovative program is a true partnership with Ithaca College’s nationally accredited, state-approved and much-respected teacher education programs,” said Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Ithaca College and Cornell University have been collaborating in the preparation of teachers for many years, noted Linda Hanrahan, chair of graduate programs in education at Ithaca College. “The newly approved M.A.T. program in agriculture education provides us with yet another avenue for continued collaboration.”

The intensive 13-month program is an extension of other articulation agreements that exist between the two schools, including the transition of prospective teacher candidates from Cornells education studies minor program into the M.S. in childhood education or the M.A.T. in adolescence education at Ithaca College.

The new program in agricultural education builds on the strengths of an already successful partnership between Ithaca College and Cornell University in other teacher certification program areas, said Jeane Copenhaver-Johnson, chair of the Department of Education and interim associate dean for the School of Humanities and Sciences at Ithaca College. Because we are coordinating with Cornell colleagues we already know well, this agricultural education program allows us to bring the unique strengths and resources of both institutions to enrich the educational experiences of our teacher candidates.

The program comes at a time when agricultural education programs are growing in popularity in suburban and urban high schools throughout the country. According to a 2014 National Association of Agricultural Educators supply-and-demand report, more than 200 additional agricultural teachers are needed due to program growth and expansion each year.

At Ithaca College, we have been focused on continuing to grow our teacher education programs in STEM [science, technology, engineering, math], and this addition of a high-need, science-related teacher certification area is just one more way our programs can contribute positively to a strong pipeline of well-prepared science teachers, said Copenhaver-Johnson.

In the 36-credit program, 27 credits will be taken through Ithaca College in general education and field experience and nine credits will be taken in agriculture through CALS Cornell Connect. The first cohort in the new program will enter on May 31, 2016, and will be eligible for graduation, initial certification and a teaching position by the following summer.

Ellen Leventry is director of media relations and special projects officer in CALS Communications.

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Melissa Osgood