HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.B. NO.

2682

THIRTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2020

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

RELATING TO workforce development.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


SECTION 1. The legislature finds that addressing the declining agricultural workforce and its ripple effects on our fragile food systems requires multiple solutions. In 2013, an agriculture skills panel reported that increasing youth education and training as the most common theme arising from county discussion groups on agricultural issues. Related goals included developing agricultural career interests; increasing agriculture programs in public secondary education, including internships and mentorships; and developing clear pathways to post-secondary education in agriculture.

The legislature further finds that progress has been made, but to produce a new generation of innovative agriculturalists and natural resources stewards who are informed by the best cultural practices and by the tools and methods of research, the State needs to intensify training for secondary education agriculture teachers and students. The State also needs to support them with skill sets appropriate to foster agricultural growth in present and future Hawaii.

The legislature also finds that the next generation of farmers need a deep toolkit to measure and manage plant and livestock production, nutrients, fair and inclement weather, fuel and energy consumption, and finances. Whether farming full-time or part-time, in order to thrive, the farmer must also consider regenerative agriculture, low-impact farming, integrated pest management, vertical farming, the use of robots, and precision agriculture control systems.

The legislature further finds that the groundswell of interest in agriculture, sourced in elementary schools and nurtured by the sustainability movement, has created a generation of informed students who must have quality secondary agricultural education destinations to foster their agricultural interests and support potential careers in agriculture.

Secondary agriculture education is part of the department of education's natural resources career pathway. The three essential parts of the pathway are:

(1) The natural resource courses, which provide agricultural content;

(2) Future Farmers of America program, which provides an array of integrated leadership development activities including public speaking, parliamentary procedure training, and a host of national proficiency award programs; and

(3) The Future Farmers of America supervised agricultural experience program, which is the foundation for business planning and the marketing of agricultural products.

The Future Farmers of America has been in Hawaii for ninety-one years and during that time, has produced successful farmers, business and community leaders, and legislators.

The legislature further finds that the driving forces of agricultural awareness cultivated in lower education, coupled with the pulling forces of the State's post-secondary agricultural science and technology programs, require a strong secondary program to bridge the programs and complete the continuum.

The legislature also finds that prior to 2000, the State has a vibrant secondary agricultural education program in over thirty high schools with a statewide Future Farmers of America membership of over eight hundred members. After 2000, this program began to decline due to:

(1) A system emphasis on traditional academics and the need to improve standardize test scores. This national trend produced results, but also eroded enrollment in elective programs, including agriculture and natural resources and career and technical education;

(2) The removal of line-item budgeting that inadvertently hurt small agricultural programs that were not able to compete for funding essential activities, like Future Farmers of America district, state, and national leadership workshops and conferences;

(3) The removal of science credit for aquaculture and horticulture classes;

(4) The downsizing of the state government's support for all career and technical education programs. Twenty years ago, agriculture and the Future Farmers of America had half of a full-time equivalent position to support professional development and Future Farmers of America coordination functions. Presently, there is only one full-time equivalent position supporting all career and technical education programs. The needs have increased and human resources have declined; and

(5) The growing disconnect between real-world agricultural conditions and what is being taught in the schools.

As a result, by 2010, Future Farmers of America membership was at a historical low. Still, a handful of agricultural teachers refused to quit and maintained their facilities and their Future Farmers of America chapters with severely diminished budgets.

The legislature further finds that when the department of labor and industrial relations took the initiative to invest in secondary agriculture education in 2014, the State began to see a reawakening of student interest in agricultural careers. As a result, the State has groomed a new generation of informed and articulate agricultural advocates. In the 2013-2014 school year, Future Farmers of America state membership numbered one hundred twenty-six members. Membership gradually increased to four hundred thirteen members in the 2017-2018 school year and continues to trend upward.

The legislature also finds that the growing interest and hope in a better educational agricultural future are attributable to:

(1) The empowerment of teachers with clear standards and evaluation tools that have shown academic skills are applied in agriculture classes;

(2) Supplemental grant funding from other agencies and the sustainability community; and

(3) The commitment by the department of education and the University of Hawaii at Manoa college of tropical agriculture and human resources to implement the Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education agriscience curriculum that is aligned with the rigorous Next Generation science standards. The science, technology, engineering, and mathematics curriculum is not new to agriculture and in the past year, Hawaii Future Farmers of America students placed first, second, and third in the National Future Farmers of America Agriscience Fair, the strongest showing in over sixty years.

Despite the resurgence, agriculture teachers still need administrative support to fully access the latest agricultural trends and opportunities. As a relatively small, but growing state program, with three thousand students enrolled in natural resources and agriculture courses, a centralized support model is still more effective than a distributed one.

The legislature further finds that when the department of education committed years ago to flatten state-level operations, it worked for lager core curriculum programs. However, secondary agriculture education still needs a coordinator that is closer to the source of emerging agricultural needs and opportunities. The State also needs to support agriculture teachers with targeted professional development that will help them to inform and motivate their students at a critical point in their education when interest in agriculture begins to taper off.

The legislature also finds that agriculture teachers and Future Farmers of America advisors must do all the things other teachers do, but in addition, they tend to plants and animals on land laboratories or school farms. Providing students with agricultural work study project funding will enable them to run agricultural enterprises on campus to learn about agribusiness and agriscience. This kind of dedicated funding will enable agriculture teachers to improve their facilities while providing students with relevant agricultural work experiences. With appropriate funding for agricultural and natural resources education programs, Future Farmers of America membership will continue to grow in numbers and abilities. There are over twenty public and charter high schools with over two thousand students enrolled in natural resources classes who are not exposed to the Future Farmers of America curriculum.

The purpose of this Act is to create a coordinator position in the department of agriculture to coordinate an agricultural technology transfer and workforce development program.

SECTION 2. Chapter 141, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"141-    Agricultural technology transfer and workforce development program; coordinator; reports. (a) There is established within the department of agriculture an agricultural technology transfer and workforce development program. The purpose of the program shall be to:

(1) Share information among public and charter schools on agricultural education needs and opportunities, including innovative technology awareness and transfers;

(2) Foster student entrepreneurship through Future Farmers of America work-study programs;

(3) Assist public and charter schools and support the department of education in encouraging and increasing student participation and teacher collaboration; and

(4) Serve as a liaison between the department of education and business and not-for-profit entities with agricultural interests that can direct in-kind resources to secondary education agricultural programs.

(b) The agricultural technology transfer and workforce development program shall be headed by an agricultural technology transfer and workforce development coordinator who shall provide support for secondary education agriculture and Future Farmers of American programs by:

(1) Providing secondary department of education and charter schools with agriculture and food systems training and workshops;

(2) Working with Future Farmers of America programs to provide mentoring and project funding for on-campus work-study internship training;

(3) Providing workshop and conferencing opportunities for students and teachers to engage in agricultural leadership activities;

(4) Identifying partners to co-fund Future Farmers of America projects and write grant applications for additional funding; and

(5) Involving private school agricultural programs in Future Farmers of America activities.

(c) The agricultural technology transfer and workforce development coordinator shall submit an annual report to the governor and legislature on the activities of, and other relevant matters relating to, the program no later than twenty days prior to the convening of each regular session, commencing with the regular session of 2021."

SECTION 3. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $200,000 or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2020-2021 for the agricultural technology transfer and workforce development program established by this Act. The sum appropriated shall be allocated as follows:

(1) $90,000 for one full-time equivalent (1.0 FTE) agricultural technology transfer and workforce development coordinator position;

(2) $30,000 for Future Farmers of American training;

(3 $30,000 for Future Farmers of American agricultural work-study internships; and

(4) $50,000 for Future Farmers of American leadership training.

The sums appropriated shall be expended by the department of agriculture for the purposes of this Act.

SECTION 4. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2020.

 

INTRODUCED BY:

_____________________________

 

 


 


 

Report Title:

Agricultural Technology Transfer and Workforce Development Program; Coordinator; Appropriation

 

Description:

Establishes the agricultural technology transfer and workforce development program and provides for a coordinator position to provide support for secondary education agriculture and Future Farmers of American programs. Appropriates funds.

 

 

 

The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.