Lesson Introduction

Overview of the Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Career Cluster

AFNR Career Cluster logo
The Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources (AFNR) Career Cluster focuses on the essential elements of life—food, water, land, and air. This career cluster includes a diverse spectrum of occupations, ranging from farmer, rancher, and veterinarian to geologist, land conservationist, and florist.

Courses in the AFNR Career Cluster are designed to prepare learners for careers in the planning, production, processing, marketing, distribution, financing, and development of agricultural commodities, services, and natural resources, including food, fiber, wood products, water, minerals, and petroleum.

While federal and state laws define "agriculture" broadly, the AFNR Career Cluster is even broader than the definition used in state and federal laws; it includes non-traditional agricultural occupations like wind energy, solar energy, and oil and gas production.

Career Pathways


Career options within the AFNR Career Cluster are plentiful. There are seven career pathways within this cluster, each with a variety of jobs and occupations.

  • Agribusiness Systems
  • Animal Systems
  • Environmental Service Systems
  • Food Products and Processing Systems
  • Natural Resources Systems
  • Plant Systems
  • Power, Structural, and Technical Systems

Teacher Resources

While we defined “agriculture” earlier in this course, refer to the Federal Definition of Agriculture and the Texas Labor Code Definition of Agriculture to refresh your memory.



To help students learn more about careers in AFNR, download and distribute the Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources College and Career Planning Guide.

WBL Experiences

The Practicum in AFNR course is the only practicum course for the AFNR Career Cluster. Be sure to review the related TEKS before you create the outline of training.

Some AFNR occupations, like golf course maintenance, aquaculture, and exotic animal care, have no corresponding TEKS. In these cases, you will need to work with the training sponsor to write appropriate learning objectives.

Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAEs)

A student working in a greenhouse
Experiential learning is an essential component of all AFNR courses. Supervised agricultural experiences (SAEs) provide experiential learning activities that connect school-based learning to real-world situations through hands-on, real-life agricultural career preparation experiences that are tied to agricultural science curriculum, student aptitudes and interests, and career and educational goals, as well as to the agricultural industry. All students enrolled in the AFNR practicum are required to participate in an SAE.

SAEs take place outside of scheduled class time and require students to invest personal resources (e.g., time and/or money) to complete a documented project related to AFNR curriculum. A teacher supervises and evaluates the student as part of the course and/or of a Future Farmers of America (FFA) experience. To learn more about supervising SAEs, contact the Texas Education Agency State CTE Coordinator for AFNR, the Educational Excellence career cluster specialist for AFNR, or the Texas FFA.

The Texas FFA recognizes four types of SAEs.

Click each type below for a brief description.



If you haven’t already done so, take a moment to bookmark TEKS for Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources.

Test Your Memory

Course Prerequisites

The Practicum in AFNR course is designed for students in grades 11 or 12 who are participating in a coherent sequence of courses. It is recommended that students have completed at least a one-credit course from the possible courses in the AFNR Career Cluster before enrolling in the Practicum in AFNR course.

Legal and Safety Considerations

You should always discuss safety and legal considerations with training sponsors when developing a student's training plan. Typically, the responsibilities for these considerations are organized as follows:
  • Training sponsors provide job-specific safety training.
  • Teacher-coordinators are responsible for providing general safety instruction to all students enrolled in the course and for ensuring that all training occurs according to schedule.
  • Teachers may assign students to research and report on specific safety and legal considerations for their job or industry.

Wage and Hour Fact Sheet #12: Agricultural Employers Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Teachers overseeing agricultural work-experiences should be familiar with the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division's fact sheet on agricultural employers. As noted in Lesson 5.1, virtually all employers engaged in agriculture are covered by the FSLA in that they produce goods for interstate commerce.

Source: WH Fact Sheet #12

Curriculum Resources

To promote educational excellence in career and technical education, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) launched the Texas CTE Resource Center.






Take a moment to bookmark the Texas CTE Resource Center website. Later, be sure to explore curriculum guidelines and instructional resources for the AFNR Career Cluster.


FFA emblem
Career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) provide students with additional opportunities to acquire and demonstrate skills and abilities related to their chosen career field. The CTSO most closely related to careers in agriculture is FFA, which offers state and national scholarships to deserving members.




Take a few moments to bookmark the CTSO websites below to explore later. 

National FFA Association
Texas FFA Association


Professional Associations

Get involved in at least one career and technical education (CTE) professional association. They are excellent sources of career cluster-specific teaching tools, ideas, networking, and mentors. The professional association for AFNR you may find the most beneficial is the Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association of Texas (VATAT).




Take a moment to bookmark the VATAT website to explore later.

Lesson Conclusion