When Alli Abadir walked into her first agricultural course, an animal veterinary science class, as a sophomore at Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri, she thought she wanted to become a veterinarian.
Not coming from an agricultural background, Alli said it was her passion for animals that led her to enroll in the animal veterinary science class.
“I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian; that’s why I took the class,” Alli said. “Then, watching my ag teachers, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. My ag teachers’ compassion and dedication for their students and the ag industry is what really sold me.”
To get a jumpstart on teaching, as a senior in high school, Alli became an educator for Agriculture Education on the Move, a 10-week, hands-on program designed for elementary students to learn about agriculture and farm families.
“The majority of the kids that come through the Columbia FFA program don’t have an ag background,” Alli said. “I thought it was really cool to see kids walk into an animal science class with no idea of what they are getting into. They think it’s about veterinary medicine and then they come out with an understanding of where their food comes from.”
A Columbia native, Alli knew she wanted to study agricultural education and leadership at MU because of the agricultural education department and professors.
“When amazing opportunities are in your own backyard, it’s hard to pass that up,” Alli said.
Alli has been seeking opportunities within agricultural education outside of Missouri, too. Inspired by the connections she would gain, not just for herself, but for her future students, Alli applied to serve as a National Teach Ag Ambassador. This May, Alli, along with 13 other agricultural education students from across the nation, were named National Teach Ag Ambassadors. In this role, Alli assists with recruitment efforts on the state and national level, while also engaging in mentoring, networking and professional development.
“Teaching students about the importance of ag teachers and the demand for ag teachers through Teach Ag workshops has been one of my favorite parts,” Alli said.
On May 1, 2019, there were six schools with agriculture teacher openings in Missouri. While all of the positions were filled before the start of the school year, the high demand for agriculture educators has been a concern for many.
“I like to remind students how much they love their ag program and how much fun it is to be able to go to FFA camp, compete in various events and travel and meet kids from all across Missouri,” Alli said. “I also like to have them think about what it would be like if their ag teacher left and if they didn’t have FFA anymore to put them in other kids’ shoes whose ag program may have closed.”
To learn more about a future career in agricultural education, visit the MU Agricultural Education website.
“It’s an incredibly rewarding career to be an ag teacher and to watch kids go through your FFA chapter or your ag classroom and come out a whole new person with a career in mind,” Alli said.