AFNR Education Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement
A statement of the values, reflective process, and organizational actions relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within agriculture, food, and natural resources (AFNR) education in Michigan.
Our work is compelled by the importance of all individuals being represented within, and contributing to, an inclusive environment throughout AFNR Education and AFNR systems. We believe any individual or organizational actions which preclude, explicitly or implicitly, the identities of all potential participants should be considered a system-wide failure to achieve the vision of an inclusive AFNR Education. In this spirit, when challenges arise, they must be met with critical reflection, internalization, and organizational change, not rationalization or justification.
Within AFNR Education, we recognize the need to reflect on our practices both as individuals and as an organization. Our DEI efforts are initiated and informed by a continuous process of critically reflecting on how our past, current, and future actions either perpetuate or eradicate the marginalization of underrepresented populations. These populations include, but are not limited to, individuals with non-majority racial, gender, ability level, sexual orientation, and religious/spiritual identities. In AFNR Education, critical reflection is made more poignant and necessary by the historical and continuing barriers for members of underrepresented populations within agricultural, educational, and AFNR education communities. We have found reflecting on these challenges to be difficult but essential to making progress.
Our continual journey to foster a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive AFNR Education system within Michigan has led us to enact many organizational actions. The following list includes a sample of concerted efforts enacted since 2018.
- Two state-wide professional development experiences offered to all secondary school Michigan AFNR educators: one on inclusive pedagogy and program design facilitated by DEI expert Dr. Roger Cleveland of Eastern Kentucky University and one on implicit bias facilitated by DEI expert Dr. Quentin Tyler of Michigan State University.
- Facilitation of a conference fostering collaborations between primarily white and historically Black college and university faculty, including those in AFNR teacher education.
- Continual state FFA officer training on implicit bias and inclusive leadership.
- Standalone and embedded preservice teacher education coursework encouraging reflection of individual biases, anti-racism, and strategies for fostering inclusive learning environments.
- Partnering with the National Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS) to promote access to AFNR Educational experiences among underrepresented populations in Michigan through a United States Department of Agriculture-funded grant.
- Teacher education faculty and state leaders in AFNR Education seeking and acquiring extensive information regarding DEI via program tours, readings, and professional development experiences.
- Foregrounding DEI efforts within the Michigan AFNR Education strategic plan.
- Formation of a DEI committee within Michigan FFA to evaluate challenges and opportunities throughout the state.
- Development of graduate student projects which enhance DEI efforts within Michigan AFNR Education classrooms via curriculum resources and scholarship.
- Intentional and concerted efforts to leverage existing partnerships (e.g., Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; National Conference on Learner-Centered Teaching; Multi-Institutional Mentoring Network) to enhance DEI throughout Michigan AFNR Education.
Invitation to Contribute
We recognize our efforts are ongoing and developing. Therefore, we invite you to collaborate with us on this reflective journey by sharing ideas, insights, or challenges to our efforts.
Adopted by the AFNR Education Team at Michigan State University, November 2021
Ratified by the Michigan FFA Board of Directors, December 2021