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Supervised agricultural experience

A supervised agricultural experience, or SAE, is required before obtaining a Chapter FFA Degree for the United States National FFA Organization. An SAE can be anything from raising livestock at a school farm to a research project for class According to the 13th addition of The Official FFA Student Handbook, there are eight types of SAE projects. They include: entrepreneurship, placement, agriscience research, agricultural service learning, exploratory, improvement, supplemental and directed school laboratory. SAE projects are often exhibited at county and state fairs, whether it is showing livestock or displaying a project. An SAE is one of the three components of Agricultural Education, the other two being FFA and classroom instruction.


SAE is a high school and middle school agricultural education program approach to experiential learning. The FFA motto ("Learning to do, Doing to learn, Earning to live, Living to serve") was created to show what the FFA values. We learn in the classroom so we can do in the world. We do for the world what we learn in the classroom. We earn what need through the jobs we have and we live our lives to serve others.

A significant level of debate centers on the meaning of the word "agricultural" in SAE. Meanings of the words "supervised" and "experience" are widely agreed upon. The meaning of the word "agricultural" is less agreed upon by educators. Some define "agricultural" as pertaining to farming, while others define "agricultural" as any career loosely connected to food and natural resources.


Application of experiential learning in agriculture programs has changed a great deal since FFA was established in 1928. In the early 1900s, a much higher percentage of high school students lived on farms. SAE programs commonly focused on farm-related activities. In 2010, far fewer high school students live on farms and far fewer students have easy access to farm-related experiential programs. A SAE can be working at church camp, raising a tomato plant, conducting a science project for school, or shadowing someone at a technical center.