The Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council (MAELC) is making an extra effort to diversify the agriculture teacher workforce by expanding its diversity scholarship program. Students from a traditionally underrepresented group in the agriculture teaching field are encouraged to apply.

The scholarship program is meant to provide financial support for students from underrepresented groups in the agriculture teacher field, and recruit and support prospective agricultural education teachers with diverse backgrounds and experiences. According to MAELC, there is a severe shortage of high school agriculture teachers in Minnesota and nationally, and a "tremendous need" for more students to become licensed to teach agricultural education.

The trend of a more diverse student population attending Minnesota’s schools reinforced the need for MAELC to expand its current program.

"While MAELC has already committed to diversifying our teaching workforce, we are continuing to take steps that promote inclusion, diversity and equity among our Minnesota agriculture teachers,” said Sarah Dornink, executive director for MAELC. "Our scholarship program is one area we are prioritizing to encourage more students from diverse backgrounds to consider joining the profession."

MAELC has awarded $715,000 in scholarships over the last two decades to students interested in becoming an agriculture teacher. The council has now opened the eligibility of the Diversity Scholarship to undergraduates entering their first year of a Minnesota Agricultural Education Teacher Licensure program. Scholarships will be awarded up to $5,000 per recipient.

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Scholarship applications can be obtained at https://mn.gov/maelc/scholarships/diversity_scholarship.html and must be submitted by Feb. 1 for incoming freshmen or undergraduate transfer students. Graduate student applications will be accepted three times per year to best coincide with the Master of Science Agricultural Education program deadlines (Feb. 1, July 1 and Nov. 1).

Applicants must be entering a program at Southwest Minnesota State University, the University of Minnesota – Crookston, or the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Applicants also must be open to teaching in Minnesota.