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Minnesota Ag Ed Council Expands Diversity Scholarships
Minnesota Ag Connection - 01/08/2021

The Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council (MAELC) recently re-emphasized its commitment to diversifying the agriculture teacher workforce by expanding its Diversity Scholarship program. The purpose of this program is to provide financial support for students from underrepresented groups in the agriculture teacher field.

A severe shortage of high school agriculture teachers exists in Minnesota and nationally. As a result, there is a tremendous need for more students to become licensed to teach agricultural education. In addition, the trend of a more diverse student population attending Minnesota's schools reinforces the need to recruit and support prospective agricultural education teachers with diverse backgrounds and experiences.

"While MAELC has already committed to diversifying our teaching workforce, we are continuing to take steps that promote inclusion, diversity and equity among our Minnesota agriculture teachers. Our scholarship program is one area we are prioritizing to encourage more students from diverse backgrounds to consider joining the profession," said Sarah Dornink, MAELC executive director.

Believing that education is the key to a successful future, MAELC has awarded $715,000 in scholarships over the past 21 years to students interested in becoming an agriculture teacher. The scholarship program, originally developed for undergraduate students, was expanded in 2012 to include graduate-level students, and again in 2016, when a Diversity Fellowship was added that was also designed for graduate-level students. Recognizing more is needed to be done to recruit students from a variety of backgrounds, MAELC decided to open the eligibility of the Diversity Fellowship to undergraduates entering their first year of a Minnesota Agricultural Education-Teacher Licensure program and changed the name to a Diversity Scholarship.

Scholarships will be awarded up to $5,000/recipient; applications can be obtained online at mn.gov/maelc/scholarships/diversity_scholarship.html. Applications for incoming freshmen or undergraduate transfer students must be submitted by Feb. 1. Graduate student applications will be accepted three times per year to best coincide with the Master of Science (M.S.) Agricultural Education program deadlines: Feb. 1, July 1 and Nov. 1.

Applicant must be entering their first year of an Agricultural Education-Teacher Licensure program at Southwest Minnesota State University, the University of Minnesota -- Crookston, or the University of Minnesota -- Twin Cities. This includes incoming freshmen, transfer students (transferring colleges/universities or current students changing majors), and students entering the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Master of Science Initial or Additional Licensure program in Agricultural Education. Students from a traditionally underrepresented group in the agriculture teaching field are encouraged to apply. Applicant must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is open to teaching in Minnesota.

MAELC is a 16-member legislative council that provides leadership to promote and expand agricultural education in Minnesota. The state legislature, agricultural educators, and agriculture industry leaders are all represented on the council.

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