An agricultural education program is made up of three integrated parts: classroom instruction, FFA and a supervised agricultural experience (SAE).
The SAE is a required component of a total agricultural education program and intended for every student. Through their involvement in the SAE program, students are able to consider multiple careers and occupations, learn expected workplace behavior, develop specific skills within an industry, and are given opportunities to apply academic and occupational skills in the workplace or a simulated workplace environment. Through these strategies, students learn how to apply what they are learning in the classroom as they prepare to transition into the world of college and career opportunities.
To further define the types of SAE programs available to and appropriate for students of school-based agricultural education, refer to the following examples:
Students with an ownership/entrepreneurship type SAE own the enterprise, equipment and supplies, make the management decisions and assume the financial risks to produce a product or provide a service. All products or services must be agriculturally related. A few examples would include raising and selling animals or crops, building and selling agricultural equipment, buying and reselling feed, seed or fertilizer, owning a pet care business or a business that programs and installs computer equipment in tractors.
Placement/Internship programs involve the placement of students in agriculture, food or natural resources-related businesses to provide a "learning by doing" environment. These experiences may be paid or un-paid. Examples would include working on a farm or a ranch, in a farm supply store or a food testing laboratory or in an agriculturally related non-profit organization.
In a research SAE students plan and conduct major agricultural experiments using the scientific process and discover new knowledge. As part of the research, students verify and demonstrate or learn about scientific principles in agriculture. Research SAEs can be entrepreneurial or placement. Research SAEs can be conducted alone or cooperatively with other students or mentors/employers. Examples would include conducting research on the most efficient feed supplements for livestock or the best fertilization methods in plants. Research could also be done to study consumer reactions to agricultural products or to determine the best method of welding to hold together a plow.
Exploratory SAEs are appropriate for all agriculture students. This SAE activity is usually beginner level, short term and designed primarily to help students become literate in agriculture and/or become aware of possible careers in the AFNR career cluster. Exploratory SAEs should help students create a larger more focused SAE.
This type of SAE is student managed, can be entrepreneurial or placement and takes place in a school setting outside of regularly scheduled class time. The project needs to provide goods and services that meet the needs of an identified market and should replicate the workplace environment as closely as possible. Examples of school based enterprises may include, but are not limited to, cooperative livestock raising in a school facility; managing or working in a school garden, a land lab or a greenhouse; agricultural research done at the school; agricultural equipment fabrication or equipment maintenance services done using school facilities; or managing or working in a school store.
Service-learning is a student-managed service activity where students are involved in the development of a needs assessment, planning the goals, objectives and budget, implementation of the activity, promotion and evaluation of a chosen project. It may be for a school, a community organization, religious institution or non‐profit organization. The student(s) are responsible for raising necessary funds for the project (if funds are needed). A project must be a stand‐alone project and not part of an ongoing chapter project, or community fundraiser. Service-learning SAEs may be individual or a small group effort amongst students.