New department takes in 4-H, ag ed, ag comm
Purdue Agriculture has a proud history of teaching the young people of Indiana about our food, agriculture and natural resource systems, and a multitude of other topics, through our 4-H programs. We are equally proud of our role in educating the next generation of agricultural communicators and high school agricultural science teachers. We are now bringing these three programs together into one department — Youth Development and Agricultural Education.
Leading this new academic department will be Roger Tormoehlen, who has been a 4-H faculty member for 15 years. Renee McKee, as the 4-H program leader, will continue to be responsible for the statewide 4-H program.
Roger earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Purdue in agricultural education and his PhD from Purdue in agricultural engineering. He joined the Purdue faculty in 1988 and has provided leadership to the engineering-related projects in the 4-H program, such as aerospace, bicycle, computers, electricity, tractors, and woodworking.
Roger will bring this new department to the front and center in Purdue's outreach to young people and to schools, and he will forge strong partnerships across campus.
The logic behind combining our programs in 4-H and agricultural education is that they share many of the same target audiences. The same intellectual underpinning of how students learn and develop life skills is common to both areas. Bringing these units together strengthens our research, scholarly capacity, and our ability to interact with all young people across Indiana.
For the benefit of ag communication, we plan to add two new faculty positions, recruited and hired together by the Schools of Liberal Arts and Agriculture. One new faculty member will specialize in public issues communications. In addition to bringing needed expertise on public issues, this person will counsel students majoring in agricultural communications. This additional faculty expertise will help us address the need all of our graduates have for stronger communication skills — something employers of our graduates have identified as an area for improvement. We will maintain our emphasis on practical, hands-on education in agricultural communication through internships and close student contact with the staff in the agricultural communication department.
The second faculty position, in risk communication, will enhance our efforts to teach students about a variety of issues facing the food, agriculture and natural resource systems. We need a science-literate population that understands agriculture if our industry is going to continue to thrive, and that challenge will continue to grow as fewer and fewer young people have firsthand knowledge of agriculture. These new faculty are one way the new department intends to address this challenge.
This move also will benefit the students studying to become agricultural science teachers. These students will see higher caliber technical content in their curriculum. And, for the first time, the key agricultural education professors, who have been in the School of Education, will be located in the same school as their students.
The Department of Youth Development and Agricultural Education is a model for the multi-disciplinary research and education that today's complex issues require. We are excited to be bringing the faculty, staff and students together.
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