Equine Subject Matter in Virginia's Secondary Agricultural Education Programs: Course Offerings Compared to Career Development Event Participation

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Virginia Tech


Agricultural education has to alter its curriculum in order to remain in step with the changes in rural and urban lifestyles. It must continue to change and expand its offerings as society develops. As an industry grows large enough to offer a variety of careers, students need to be more aware of opportunities and gain the necessary skills to enter that job market. The equine industry qualifies as an important and viable part of not only Virginia’s economy, but also the national economy.

Career Development Events (CDEs) are designed to help prepare students for careers in agriculture. Classroom instruction comes alive as students demonstrate their skills in a competitive setting. CDEs test the abilities of individuals, as well as teams, in 28 major areas of agricultural instruction (National FFA, 2006). The basic core of agricultural education program consists of three components:

  1. classroom instruction,
  2. FFA, including Career Development Events, and
  3. Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) programs.

The FFA is a co-curricular organization representing one-third of the total agricultural education program. As such, FFA activities should reflect the instruction provided in the agricultural education classroom and laboratory. The concern facing the profession relates to why there were 40 Virginia FFA chapters with a CDE horse judging team in 2005, but that only 12 programs offered an equine management course.

The purpose of my research was to assess the perceptions of Virginia’s secondary agricultural education teachers toward the benefits of offering an equine management course, within the secondary agricultural education programs that have CDE horse judging teams. The survey of 40 agricultural teachers who had a horse judging team at the 2005 state CDE event showed that 14 (22%) of the teachers did teach an equine course or unit within another course, 21 (63%) did not, and five (15%) did not respond.

Based on the findings of this study, teachers’ perceptions were that an equine management program and participation in equine Career Development Events are necessary. Teachers agreed the event improved their students’ overall academic performance, increased their acceptance of responsibility, and increased their self-confidence.



Agricultural Education, Career Development Events, Equine Curriculum