As Illinois continues to face an agricultural education teacher shortage, a new grant program is helping to limit stressors for beginning ag teachers.
Jacalyn Meisner, agriculture teacher and FFA Advisor at Blue Ridge High School, Farmer City, Ill., was selected this week as one of four new ag teachers in Illinois to receive recognition as a recipient of the Illinois Agricultural Education Teacher Grant Program.
Meisner applied for the program and earned the award based on her efforts in the classroom, as well as her short- and long-term personal and program goals.
Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education District 4 Program Advisor Megan Coy and DeWitt County Farm Bureau Manager Janell Baum Thomas visited Meisner’s classroom on Nov. 2 to surprise the teacher with her award.
Illinois agricultural education teachers completing their first year in the classroom are eligible to apply for the grant. The amount of the grant payment will increase over the course of the teacher’s first five years in the classroom, up to $10,000 total, if they meet the re-application process, which requires that applicants continue to teach ag in Illinois.
The Illinois Farm Bureau, through its charitable arm, the IAA Foundation, created the Illinois Agricultural Education Teacher Grant Program. Illinois Farm Bureau provided seed money to begin the program, and the IAA Foundation will actively seek additional funding partners to continue adding new groups of first year teachers into the program, with a goal of funding 32 teachers over a 12-year timeframe.