SPRINGFIELD – A proposal sponsored by State Senator Scott Bennett will create a hands-on agricultural teacher internship program in Illinois high schools.

Bennett (D-Champaign), who chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture, passed Senate Bill 1498 through the General Assembly. It requires the Illinois State Board of Education to partner with the Illinois Board of Higher Education to develop an Agricultural Education Pre-Service Internship Program to prepare high school students for a college career aimed at becoming farm sciences teachers.

“Agriculture is the number one industry in Illinois and offers many job opportunities both on the farm and in related agri-businesses,” Bennett said. “The benefits of an agricultural education goes far beyond the classroom. This program will provide students opportunities for leadership development, personal growth and career success.”

Bennett’s legislation also provides grants to teaching students who qualify and attend a university or community college that offer an agricultural education teacher course.

The pre-service teaching program would include an eight-week course that would provide hands-on experience through partnerships with Illinois agricultural companies, focusing on the five career clusters of agricultural education: agricultural business management, agricultural mechanics and technology, horticulture services, agricultural sciences, and natural resources conservation management.

The governor signed the bill into law last week. It takes effect immediately.

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