Depending on where you live in the country, there may be high schools that teach agriculture. Most of these schools are in rural areas. Instructors at these schools teach freshman courses in animal science, plant science, and environmental science. In the sophomore year, students interested in working with animals take basic courses in animal care, handling, and grooming. They learn about horse management and take introductory classes about birds, fish, rodents, and reptiles.
Junior-year students are asked to choose a career path. They can choose to major in agribusiness (this deals with a wide variety of animal-related businesses, canine training, kennel management, and canine and feline first-aid techniques), veterinary technology, or equine management.
Agriculture programs are taught in high schools and colleges in rural areas. All have hands-on opportunities for students to work with animals. Equine management is just one of the courses taught as part of an agriculture management degree. The course includes riding techniques, barn management skills, and basic first-aid training.
“When I Googled ‘ag high schools,’ I got results showing over 50 million hits,” says Laurie Walton, an agricultural instructor at the Essex County Agricultural School in Hathorne, Massachusetts. “That tells me that there is a need and that there are positions to be filled for anyone interested in working as an agricultural instructor.”
According to Walton, many high schools are expanding their curricula to provide students with a wide range of career options. “The school is set up like a working farm, and components of the curriculum revolve around the farming aspect of instruction,” she says. “Our school is actually comparable to a farm in the sense that we house horses, cattle, sheep, goats, and llamas here on campus. We're also in the process of bringing back some pigs as well.”
To entice even more students into the field, Essex County Agricultural School is offering courses in companion animal grooming, veterinary technology, kennel management, and canine and equine training. “We used to be more of a farm-type operation,” she says, “but in order to provide the necessary training for our students to find entry-level positions in animal careers prevalent to this area we have changed over the years, and are continuing to change on a regular basis.”
New fields include hazmat training (dealing with hazardous materials, containment, and spills) and biotechnology. Some high schools also offer programs in greenhouse production as part of an environmental science major.
People who work in these fields often live in rural environments. To become an agricultural instructor it is essential to have a teaching degree with a minor in animal and environmental science. Salaries are akin to other teaching incomes.