Dear Agriculture Teachers,

As the possibility was mentioned at the conference a couple of weeks ago, we are facing some more budget cuts in our program. The Governor has mandated that all state agencies cut 4% from the budget. In addition, we have been asked to prepare a plan for possible 6% and 8% reductions in case the state revenues do not pick up. Since the AG. Extended Day Grant is funded totally by the state, we will make the budget reduction from these amounts to keep from impacting your local match on AG. Extended Year. In the coming weeks, your AG. region coordinator will be sending information to your system regarding the 4% budget cut.

During these challenging times it would be helpful if we all worked toward a common initiative. I would like to ask each of you to consider helping in the following ways:

1. Focus on Advocacy -- promote your students and chapter activities by having great articles in the newspaper. Invite local and state leaders to share in your class and chapter activities so they can get to know you and your students. Be accountable and work to exceed expectations. Continue to provide quality experiences for your students in agricultural education. Find new ways to make a positive difference in the lives of your students. If you do not have an active FFA Alumni Chapter, start one this year.

2. Focus on Integration of Academics -- The very nature of agricultural education is uniquely equip to integrate many core academic activities. Agriculture is science. There is great opportunities to make math principles realistic in agricultural education. English / language arts can be introduced in every lesson. Don't forget the cowboy poetry competition (which should be won by an FFA member this year). Keep your region staff aware of great ways you are integrating academics into your program. Partner with an academic teacher this school year to provide a meaningful activity for students in both classes. Be sure to keep your school administrators aware of how your helping improve test scores by integrating core academics and also helping to keep students from dropping out of school.

I know that it is difficult to stay positive and keep a great attitude in light of all the challenges we are currently facing. I also know (without a doubt) that agriculture teachers can and will overcome any challenge in order to provide the best possible experience for the students, adults, and the community in which we live. You are working in the greatest field of study. What better or more important work is there than to have a hand in securing our future by making a positive difference in our youth and our agriculture. What you do is too important not to be the best and I trust you will continue to strive for excellence.

I hope that each of you have a great school year.

John (Chip) Bridges
Program Manager, Agricultural Education
Georgia Department of Education
1752 Twin Towers East
Atlanta, GA 30334
Phone: 404.657.8311
Fax: 770.344.4411
email: [log in to unmask]