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About FCAE      

Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education (FCAE)
 Local Program Support (LPS) is supported with funds from the Agricultural Education line item within the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) budget. Project staff includes a coordinator, five district program advisors, and a fiscal manager charged with improving education in and about agriculture and related agricultural industries, pre-kindergarten through adult levels. FCAE began operations with staffing on April 17, 1989, addressing the aims of Public Act 84-1452 involving the implementation of identified goals for improving education in and about Agriculture in Illinois.  Major responsibilities are:

  • Provide on-site technical assistance and on-going remote assistance to 5-16 grade schools and colleges with agricultural education programs and teachers.
  • Guide the development and revision of state core curriculum, instructional resources, and associated resources for middle, junior high, and high school agricultural teachers.
  • Facilitate, assist, and deliver professional development for 500+ pre-service and active teachers virtually and at the IAVAT conference, regional conferences, district workshops, and other events. 
  • Implement agricultural educator recruitment and retention initiatives including the Elite conference, attendance at multiple career fairs, presentation of workshops, and other activities to reach potential future agricultural educators. 
  • Provide on-site technical assistance and remote assistance to county agricultural education literacy programs in developing a consumer education outreach strategy.
  • Network and engage with key agricultural and agricultural education entities and organizations to facilitate the coordination necessary to address the needs and challenges of agricultural education and to identify opportunities to advance agriculture and agricultural education.
  • Facilitate and deliver other initiatives and activities intended to meet the goals of ISBE and ensure that agricultural education continues to improve and expand in Illinois.

Local Program Support      
FCAE Staff are available to assist in developing and maintaining an agriculture program at the 5-12 grade school level. A yearly grant is available to every approved agricultural education program with an average allocation of approximately $4279 per school. Funding is used for supplies, lab and mechanics equipment, and instructional and technology resources.  The Three Circle FFA and SAE grant is available to every full-time public school agricultural teacher which provides funding for extended contracts(time) beyond the regular school day.  

Current (in bold) & Past FCAE Staff      
State Project Coordinators
Jim Guilinger - 1989-1999
Jay Runner - 1999-2012
Jess Smithers - 2012-2018
Dean Dittmar - 2018-2023
Jennifer Waters - 2023 to Present

Program Advisors

District 1 District 2 District 3 District 4 District 5
Dick Treat       
Garry Raymond
Jeff Bryan
Jay Runner
Dean Dittmar
Aaron Leary
Ron Biondo
Larry Pfeiffer
Joe Webel
Casey Bolin
2019 to Present
Kathy Novotney
Mindy (Porter)
Jess Smithers
Mindy (Elvidge)
Kevin Larsen
Andrew Thoron
Jennifer Waters
Ryan Wildman
Jay Solomonson
Sarah (Hileman) 
 Allie Bode
2023 to Present
Kathy Novotney
John Heiser
2020 to Present
Luke Allen
2006 to Present
  Megan Coy
2017 to Present

Fiscal Manager
Susie Scott - 1989 to Present

Program Growth & Development Coordinator
Kim Haywood - 2008-2010

Field Assistants
Julie McCleary - 1990-2021
Monica Wolf (District 3) - 1990-1993
Marcia Mehrtens (District 5) - 1990-1993
Louise Damen (District 2) - 1991-2007
Margaret Leman-Paddock (District 3) - 1993-1998
Stephen Hartley (District 5) -1993-1995
Sean Gilliam (District 5) - 1995-1996
Doug DeWilde (District 5)-1996-1998
Kim Wagner (District 5) - 1998-1999
Judy Fenton (District 3) - 1998
Anna Greer (District 3) - 1998-1999
Devon DeWilde (District 5) - 1998-1999
Jodee Whitlock (District 3) - 1999
Brad Portz (District 5) - 2000-2001
Derek Schmeiderer (District 5) - 2001-2005
Abby McMahon (District 5) - 2005-2012
Aurelia Mniszewski-Wilk (Urban District 2) - 2007-2010
Rosean Roback (Urban District 2) - 2007-2010

On-site Technical Assistance      
Each year the high school agricultural education programs statewide are visited by a FCAE Program Advisor to assist agriculture teachers in improving and expanding agricultural education. FCAE Program Advisors can provide curriculum revitalization advice, marketing suggestions, program development planning, and professional development as a part of their yearly visit to each agriculture program.

Curriculum Resources      
Agriculture teachers have access to over 850 lesson plans which are aligned to the Illinois Learning Standards. The Illinois Agricultural Core Curriculum is made available to Illinois agriculture teachers via their access to  This curriculum is divided into the following cluster areas: AgriScience, Horticulture, Agribusiness Management, Agricultural Mechanics & Technology, Animal, Plant & Soil Science, Environmental Science, and Biological & Physical Science Applications in Agriculture.

Professional Development      
Professional development opportunities are available to agriculture teachers at several conferences throughout the year. Through partnerships between FCAE, the Illinois Association of Vocational Agriculture Teachers (IAVAT), and agricultural businesses, experts from all aspects of the agriculture industry provide educational workshops for teachers. Agriculture teachers remain up-to-date on the latest agricultural industry techniques as well as new curriculum resources that are available for classroom use. In-service activities are selected by the IAVAT Professional Development Committee with input provided from a survey completed by Illinois agriculture teachers.

FCAE Program Advisors are also available to conduct hands-on workshops utilizing the activities in the mAGic and AgriLearning Kits. County Ag In The Classroom coordinators provide teacher workshops and presentations to K-8 students. Both the FCAE Program Advisors and the AITC Coordinators assist non-agriculture teachers in incorporating agricultural instruction and activities into their classrooms.

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