Alabama Community College System (ACCS) is working with the Alabama Forestry Association (AFA) and the Alabama Poultry & Egg Association (APEA) to train high school agriculture educators and subsequently give credentials to certify high school students for agriculture jobs.
The training certifies K-12 teachers to offer the maintenance technician credential to students, as early as ninth grade, who take agriculture-based classes in high schools. The credential then provides training that students can use to continue through dual enrollment career technical education classes at local community colleges or to prepare for agriculture work.
This move was made to address the need for more maintenance technicians in the state’s multi-billion dollar forestry, poultry, and egg industries. The growth rate of farming, fishing, and forestry employment jobs is expected to drop 2.6% in the state by 2024, according to the Alabama Department of Labor.
“As early as 2026, the forestry industry in Alabama could have 50% in turnover simply due to retirement and age, so we want to create a pipeline of qualified workers who can continue to create viable career paths for themselves while also ensuring that agriculture educators have access to their community colleges for hands-on experience or more in-depth theory training for their students,” said Maggie Pope, director of education and industry relations for the AFA Forest Workforce Training Institute.
Teacher training on AFA’s maintenance technician credential began in June at Auburn University for more than 25 school districts in the state and will continue through Wallace Community College in Dothan, Ala., over the next year.