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Leadership for postsecondary agriculture students.


OFFICIALLY FORMED IN MARCH 1980 IN KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, THE NATIONAL POSTSECONDARY AGRICULTURAL STUDENT ORGANIZATION (PAS) is a career and technical student organization (CTSO) associated with agriculture/agribusiness and natural resources programs in approved postsecondary institutions offering baccalaureate degrees, associate degrees, diplomas and/or certificates. Today, the membership totals approximately 1,115 members from 56 chapters located in 18 states.

The mission of PAS is to provide opportunities for individuals in leadership and career preparation. Its student members develop their leadership abilities through participation in employment experience programs, coursework and organization activities. The values upon which PAS is based include not only, developing leadership abilities, but also promoting intellectual growth, developing technical competencies, fostering strong personal ethics, encouraging lifelong learning, recognizing synergy exists in diversity, and uniting education and industry.

Former members can continue their association with PAS through the organization PAS Associates, which also includes faculty and advisers, school administrators, parents, friends of PAS and industry representatives. Membership in PAS Associates allows PAS alumni and other supporters to contribute to the success of current agriculture students, not only by providing financial assistance, but also by assisting at local and state PAS activities where they may serve as judges, timekeepers or career program area officials. PAS Associates' members also participate in recruitment for postsecondary schools and hold a session at the PAS national conference.

PAS also receives support for its programs from sponsors that include John Deere ADM, TSC Tractor Supply Co., Duramax Diesel, Fastline, Allison Transmission, and Kuhn Knight. In addition, PAS receives support from organizations such as The National Center for Agriscience and Technology Education, Team Ag Ed and the National Association of Agricultural Educators.

Myron Sonne is the PAS chapter adviser at Mitchell Technical Institute in Mitchell, South Dakota, where he is also an animal science instructor. His school is unusual in that so many of his students return to their home farms and ranches upon graduation. However, notes Sonne, "Our graduates who go into the agriculture industry have developed leadership traits in their agriculture club that will help them climb the ladder and expand into management."


Those who return home to operate family farms and ranches may still take on leadership roles as they become active in national livestock organizations or organizations such as the Corn Growers Association.

"Several of our former students have served on national committees, and one went on to the state legislature," says Sonne. "They have become spokesmen for our industry."

As part of their chapter activities, Mitchell Tech students help host district FFA activities, serving as facilitators and organizers. "Our town has one of the larger agriculture shows," Sonne notes. "It's the largest in the state. We have a booth each year and assist the Chamber of Commerce at the show."

Not all of his students participated in FFA at the secondary level, so that sometimes presents a challenge for Sonne in convincing them to participate fully in the postsecondary agriculture club, because they don't know the opportunities for both career and personal growth that such participation brings.

As a chapter adviser, Sonne says, "You have to be a promoter and in some cases a nag when it comes to getting the students involved, encouraging them to become state officers and getting them to apply for scholarships. When you are an adviser, you have more on your table."

Mitchell Tech also has an active land lab, which is a working farm where the students get hands-on experience, and they learn decision making and how to work on committees. Those experiences help contribute to their leadership skills as well.

Another resource they tap into at Mitchell Tech is their pool of alumni. Sonne says, "We all try to relate these students to graduates and alumni to help them understand both the opportunities and the responsibilities so that they can see what they can grow into as they mature."

Career and technical educators who take on leadership roles such as serving as chapter advisers for CTSOs know that they are taking on additional responsibilities and will be devoting many additional hours to the job, but they find the rewards as great as the responsibilities.

A CTSO such as PAS, notes Sonne, not only provides leadership training, but he adds, "It's an organization our kids can belong to and excel in, and it's great to get to see them grow."

For more information about the National Postsecondary Agricultural Student Organization, visit

Report on Dual Enrollment and Postsecondary Outcomes

A study conducted by the Community College Research Center (CCRC), Institute on Education and the Economy, Teachers College, Columbia University, was designed to fill in the research gap on the impact of dual enrollment programs on students' preparation for, and success in, postsecondary education. A CCRC brief issued by Melinda Mechur Karp, Juan Carlos Calcagno, Katherine L. Hughes, Dong Wook Jeong and Thomas R. Bailey of CCRC notes that such programs were once limited to high-achieving students but are now seen as a means to support the postsecondary preparation of average-achieving students--and increasing numbers of career and technical education (CTE) programs are making these programs available to their students.

According to the February brief (CCRC Brief No. 37), the study examined the influence of dual enrollment program participation on students in Florida and New York City, compared to students who did not participate. There was a specific focus in both locations on CTE students, and in Florida all student participants were considered.

The brief notes, "Our study provides evidence suggesting that dual enrollment is an effective strategy for encouraging postsecondary student success for all students, including those in CTE programs." For more information, visit
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Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2008
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