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A Day In the Life of an Ag Teacher

232 Posts
Matt Eddy

Life is good today

Posted by Matt Eddy Apr 16, 2014

It's been a while here, but I hope your world has been spinning along this spring.  We have had more than normal snow and sprinkled in some 80 degree days... hard to get used to one temperature before it changes.


Today my FFA members worked to set up the Altoona Community Garden -- a community committee undertook this project and wanted me to participate.  Instead of me, I nominated one of my senior members to be on the committee and represent the FFA.  She did an excellent job, helped create plans for the community garden, secure supplies, found help from fellow FFA members and helped make the FFA an integral part of the event. I was lucky enough to be able to drive the truck today and help where needed.  Made me feel good about their accomplishments and the role Agriculture Education played in preparing them for it.


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Speaking of trucks -- the Toyota truck arrived yesterday, just in time to be put to work for our community garden.  BIg thanks to NAAE, Toyota, and National FFA Foundation for making this award possible.  What a great thing for agriculture education -- more people have stopped me in the last 6 months and inquired about Ag Ed than have for the past 15 years. No Joke!  It's a great chance to help people see that Ag Ed is a legitimate educational model and is developing phenomenal kids.  As evidenced above.


I think the kids (my kids) had more fun than I did picking up the truck last night. ;-)
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State Convention is in two weeks and a CASE Training in between.  Living la vida loca.

Due to a lack of time and creativity, I decided to allow one of my ag students to take over my blog this month. Meagan aspires to be an ag teacher, and without students like her who have been inspired to follow in our footsteps, the future of our profession would be mighty uncertain. While she is only a sophomore, she is committed to becoming an ag teacher and constantly looks for opportunities to work on her teaching skills. Here is her story about a day in the life of a  current ag student and future ag teacher.


From Meagan:


There are so many different yet basic fundamentals to being an ag student. We all wake up, we all get dressed, and we all go to school like any other high school student in America. Whether your interests lie in Agriculture programs like the 4H, FFA or any other student organization with ties to agriculture, life is very similar for us ag students.



For me, I devote my time to the FFA. Since seventh grade the FFA has been my main focus and that will never change.



My path to agriculture was very different compared to my other fellow chapter members. Our high school pulls from three different townships, two of which have rich farming and agricultural roots. Then, there’s me. I’ve from the urban city with a yard the size of my thumb. I was a fish out of water the minute I stepped into my high school’s ag shop, but that’s what I absolutely love about being an ag student.



I love that I learn so many new things every day, that I get to experience what it means to be a leader and that being an agriculturist doesn’t just mean being a farmer.



My time in the classroom learning about agriculture has helped to make me realize my dreams of achieving in the FFA, the field of agriculture, and my goal of growing up to educate future agriculturalists as an agriculture teacher.



Being a teacher is one of the most honorable professions a person could ever hope to undertake. It takes an inhuman amount of patience as well as a lot of tough love. I’ve witnessed first hand as well as experienced the special bond between a teacher and their student, and the even stronger, unbreakable bond of an FFA advisor and their chapter members.



I first realized I wanted to be an agriculture teacher the same way I discovered that I wanted to be very successful in the FFA. It was 83rd New Jersey State FFA Convention and I was surrounded by ag teachers. I realized that my little pond with my one advisor and ten chapter members was flowing into a river filled with advisor after advisor and hundreds of like-minded FFA members all across the state. I saw that every advisor had very special bonds with all of their students, just like I had with mine. I saw that just like my advisor doubled as a friend so did theirs and that special connection, that bond between an advisor and their student wasn’t just sacred to my situation but for every ag student and their teacher because they’re the educators, the leaders, the advisors, the mentors and the inspirations.



I knew that I wanted to be an ag teacher from that to today, three and a half years later. I want to learn from my students just as much as they learn from me, to inspire and ignite a passion in agriculture and help to guide them into their futures.



Throughout my academic career, I’ve gone through teacher after teacher, grade level after grade level but the steadiest thing I’ve known is agriculture. I know I can always find a friend and confidant in my FFA advisor and ag teacher and I always know that when I feel I’ve lost my way I only need to go to the ag shop to feel at home again.

So it has been a while since I’ve posted on here. It’s that I haven’t wanted to.  It’s not that it the school year is any busier than any other year (but it’s definitely not slower).  It's not that we've had umpteen speaking events, community service activities, proficiency apps, or other paper work come to pass.  It’s not that state convention is next week.


Meet my son.




Paul Wesley Crawford joined us on January 23rd of this year.  It is amazing how such an event can change your life.  This is our first child, and our expectations of a whole new world have been fully met.  Such as how simple tasks like leaving add 30 minutes…apparently as does typing up a blog post.


IMG_0448.JPGNeedless to say, a great deal of change has happened in our lives.  This is much more true for my wife than I, who is on maternity leave the rest of the school year.  However, she is still overseeing the FFA chapter of her program, so that means the child gets hauled around a fair amount.


But he is a trooper. He’s seven weeks old and has been to both district and sectional leadership career development events, been changed in 1) the greenhouse, 2) the metal shop, 3) both of our classrooms, 4) lambing barn, and 5)  tonight in the car at the land lab.  Next weekend he will attend his first state convention.  Thank goodness for grandmothers who enjoy time with their grandson!


I can’t imagine how life will continue to change.  Adapting how I manage the AST program and teach will be a never ending process I am sure. What will summer look like?  How will I leave for professional development trainings?  How can I give time to my students as well as my family?


Can I finally commit to getting a dog now?


You don’t realize how much a day means until you watch a person develop and change every day.  But for now, it’s another day in the life.

Matt Eddy

Hold on Loosely

Posted by Matt Eddy Mar 7, 2014

(Sang in the style of .38 Special)

Hold on loosely, but don't let go.

If you cling to tightly, you can loose control...


Spring Break is here next week and I've got a punchers chance of making it.... but my arms are getting tired.


Advanced Animal Sciences Preg Checked Animal Learning Center Cows yesterday. 16 of 21.  Not stellar, but within our window of acceptability.  The kids were excited and you could feel the learning in the air.  Some days I would pay for the privilege of this job....


Looks like a trap...Top head gate crew in the county...
Doc's AngelsApplication of Permectrin on calves
Photo-bombSelfie Nation


We head to District Contests tomorrow and aside from minor turbulence, we should arrive in fine fashion.  A great day should be had by all.


Hope you all have a great Spring (after a tough winter ALL OVER) and that we find our way to the end of the year in good order.


(Sung in the style of Autograph)


I'm working hard, you're working too

We do it every day

For every minute I have to work

I need a minute of play

Now listen
I wanna shake, I wanna dance
So count it off one, two, three
I hear the beat, I'm in a trance
No better place to be

Daytime, nighttime, anytime
Things go better with rock
I'm goin' twenty four hours a day
I can't seem to stop

Turn up the radio

I need the music, gimme some more

Tiffany Morey

Smell the Roses

Posted by Tiffany Morey Feb 21, 2014

This time of year it is easy to forget about some of the things that make being an ag teacher great. Between applications for degrees and proficiencies to CASE grants to trying to re-work lesson plans due to snow days, its a rough time for us. I know that I am guilty of focusing on the negative of everything I need to get done and less on the positive of how lucky I am to have a job that I love. FFA Week caused me to take a step back and "smell the roses" and appreciate all of the wonderful perks of being an ag teacher and FFA advisor. Below are some of my favorite "roses" growing in my ag teaching garden.


Promising new members who make the future of FFA look bright.


The middle school Discovery Degree recipients at our annual Discovery and Greenhand Degree Banquet.


The freshmen Greenhand Degree recipients at our annual Discovery and Greenhand Degree Banquet.


Great community and FFA Alumni support of the chapter and program.


We packed the cafeteria with nearly 90 guests for our banquet. The FFA Alumni and parents set and cleaned up and provided all of the food. Talk about amazing supporters!


Administrators and co-workers who are behind the program 100% and who are committed to it's success.


Our superintendent trying his hand at milking the cow SHR style.


An amazing officer team.


Members who want to improve their leadership skills and represent their chapter with pride.


Members who truly love FFA and embrace the FFA spirit.



Thoughtful fellow owls.



Some legitimate roses (and other flowers) that served as our banquet centerpieces.



The power of the blue and gold and it's ability to unite students.



Hope everyone had an enjoyable and fun FFA Week! Try to find some time to "smell the roses" of your own program and appreciate the little things that make what we do the best job in the world.


President Obama visited McGavock High School last Thursday, January 30. In order to share a very out-of-the-ordinary day in the life of this ag teacher, I'd like to share with you a photo journey of things that happen when the President visits your high school. (If you're interesting in the White House video, you can check it out here - President Obama Speaks on Education from Nashville, TN | The White House)

Lots of media attention is focused on your high school and why they chose you over the school down the road. Be prepared for a mixture of commendation and anger.

(Note: People may give you some undue praise. Because this is my first year at my school, I've only had about 6 months of work put in. The reason for his visit was to congratulation the Academies model and encourage it in other schools. If you are unfamiliar with Academies, they are essentially small learning communities centered around CTE classes. This model is what Mr. Obama said all high schools should be like. I know there are many different political stances to take on the current administration, but I have to say, that's a point in his favor.)


You will have the privilege of being able to help choose who can attend.

McGavock High School has over 2,000 students, and only 600 could attend. Our 10 officers represented us.


You will get a snazzy ticket that no one actually looks at or takes from you.

If you're into scrapbooking, you'll probably get really excited about including this.


Your last class of the day will gawk at protesters outside your classroom window.

This crowd will grow past this point and be audible from your room.

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You could wait outside for an hour and a half in the cold in order to go through security.

You may leave your jacket in your classroom on the other side of the school, because the student council sponsor may mistakenly tell you that jackets aren't allowed inside. The plethora of emergency vehicles and news vans will entertain you.


You will enter the already packed, freshly-painted gym and see the PE teachers sneaking up to the best spot, and you will follow them.

Your kids will wave to you while you take a picture (they are all turned looking up towards me in this one), but as you will soon find out, they're crafty and won't stay in that spot for long.


You will start getting texts from folks watching at home who notice your students and their jackets are on TV.

You will be immensely proud of them for being smart enough to back up to the ropes so that can happen. The ladies are even smart enough to pull their hair forward so all of the jacket shows.

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Regardless of your political affiliation, you realize that CTE is getting a huge shout-out from the Commander-in-Chief, and it makes you applaud frequently.

You also get pretty excited when your students are just feet from the President, in OD. They take adorable selfies for Instagram,


You also take some selfies.

Including a Secret Service selfie. Notice the earpiece and cool pin.

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When it's all over, you will load up some of those students, who at this point had been standing for about 4 hours, and drive them another hour away to compete in the second level of Extemporaneous Speaking, Prepared Speaking, and Job Interview CDEs. They will be so exhausted that they may not be on their A game, but they make you proud regardless. There is no picture of this event because it's a miracle we even made it to the contest. (To the teachers of the Southern Section in Middle TN, especially those at Eagleville and Oakland - thank you for waiting.)

When you get home and have some time to breath, you watch the recorded news footage and  get excited when one of the stations talks about your program for an entire minute.


If you're like me, you'll end the experience on a nerdy note and use a stopwatch to add up all the time that your students or their jackets were on TV.

Between 4pm and 6pm on the day this happened, on the 3 major networks? 40 minutes, 33 seconds.

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You will think back to all of the people who made fun of you for going to an urban school and joked that they would "see you in the hospital" because you might get shot.

You will then resist the urge to email all of those people a picture of the President in your gym, talking about why your high school and school district rocks.

You will reflect back to August when your students didn't know what FFA was and had never seen a blue jacket, and you will say it was a pretty darn good day.

Today I took a field trip with my middle schoolers, and it occurred to me that I haven't really talked about my adventures in teaching this younger age group of ag students. Robin McLean told me for years how much fun it was, and I always thought it would be something I'd like to try. Now that I've had the chance to teach them for several months now, I've realized that she is exactly right and they are tons of fun to work with!


Some of my marvelous middle school ag students.


Prior to my becoming a 7th-12th grade ag teacher in September, I had very little experience with middle schoolers. In fact, the last time I had spent any amount of time with middle schoolers was when I was a student in middle school. Sure, I had spent time with Robin and her students at FFA events, but I had never taught or even observed a middle school ag class. However, instead of being nervous about teaching an unfamiliar age group, I looked at it as a fun challenge.


My attitude on teaching middle schoolers for the first time.


From the moment I met my first rotations of 7th and 8th grade ag, I knew I was hooked on teaching middle school ag. Their eagerness to learn and try new things was a refreshing change from the attitudes that high school students sometimes have. They loved learning about ag and FFA, and were always eager to please. The middle school FFA chapter quickly gained 10 new members, and we had a great showing at our first CDE.


Trying out a cool new soil data app on the iPads.


Now that I've been at this for a few months and am in my 2nd and 3rd rotations of my classes, my love for teaching middle school ag has only grown. While not every student is a delight all the time, overall they are a very rewarding group of students to work with. They ask great (and sometimes not so great) questions, and seem to take pride in their work. I've been challenging them with activities from CASE AFNR and every time I think that it might be too hard for them, they amaze me and do something fantastic with the lab or project they are working on. I regularly have students from former rotations stop in to say "hi" and I make it a point to visit them during lunch at least once a week.


Getting the "dirt" on what's in soil.


To me, offering middle school ag is critically important to the future of ag education. By "hooking" them young, and giving them a firm foundation of ag and FFA concepts, they are better prepared to be stellar ag students and FFA members in high school. They learn the importance of teamwork and leadership at an early age, and are able to spend more years learning the ag science skills needed for a future career in agriculture. They also have more time to develop an SAE and their resumes, which can lead to them finding internships and scholarships in high school. But, the most important thing about middle school ag is that it serves as a type of "Insurance" for getting students in high school ag classes and keeping programs open. As long as we can get them interested in ag education and FFA at the middle school level, it is more likely that they will continue their studies in high school. They help keep the numbers in ag classes up and make it more likely that our programs will be around for years to come.


Future ag scientist in the making!


Even though teaching middle school is awesome, I still LOVE teaching high school ag the most. However, teaching middle school has given me new purpose to when it comes to being a better ag teacher. It's reinvigorated my desire to continually provide high quality ag education to my students and to make what I teach as innovative and relevant to the real world as possible. If I can do these things, my students will have the opportunity to have a wonderful ag ed and FFA experience from day 1. Hope everyone is have a great new year so far. Make it the best one yet, and be the best ag teacher you can be! Look for S'Morey soon!



Wes Crawford

How Many Chances Left?

Posted by Wes Crawford Jan 7, 2014

http://www.40chances.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/40-chances-cover.pngSo I read that book that came in the mail the other month.


I'll be honest, when I received an email last fall from National FFA at the tail end of my prep period saying a free copy was being sent to every chapter regarding the fight against hunger, without paying much attention to who the book was written by, as the electronic note added to the 14,997 other ones stockpiled in my inbox (don't tell my technology director), I didn't give it much thought.


And when my copy of '40 Chances' arrived, it looked reminiscent of a trendy Malcolm Gladwell cover, with a nice-short-catchy-title-on-a-stark-white background, and an author's name under the author's name - a sure sign they needed a person recognizable on book to sell it, and a name under that to actually write it, right?


But it had actually only sat a couple days when I saw a mention here on CoP about the meaning behind the title - a farmer only has forty chances in their lifetime to get it 'right;' only forty tries of planting, growing, managing and harvesting crops to achieve their best result.  And I was intrigued.


So in December, I read it. Quickly.  And you should to.


A closer inspection revealed this is truly Howard G. Buffett's book - and the name under his name in his son Howard W. Buffett, not an assisting nameless author.  And quite frankly, these gentlemen know what they are talking about.  Beyond the simple and brilliant premise of 'forty chances' and how it applies to the great work he and his family are engaged in with their lives, the even more engaging and complex concept of sustainable agriculture is examined at length, and how we can indeed feed the world.


It is clear that Mr. Buffett is an agriculturalist and has the heart and influence of an agricultural educator on a grand scale - passionate about his industry and intent to help others realize the purposes and practices in which we can truly and sustainably feed the world.  The more I read the more I appreciated the great work his foundation and others are doing in realistically accepting the hunger challenge on a global scale - while recognizing our own challenges at home - with practical and tested methods.


There are a hundred lesson plans in this book, wrapped up in the Buffetts' forty stories.  From the global challenges to differing cultures, around inquiry-based approaches to solutions and problem solving or the concepts of organic and genetically modified crops, or the leadership lessons found in his journeys, the applications to our agricultural science classrooms and FFA chapters from this collection of valuable experiences seemed to be written for our profession.  While I'm sure every person would gain great insight from reading this, as an ag teacher I was continually blown away by how many times I realized how perfectly it fit with what we try to do every day.


How are you using your chances?  As educators, we have forty at best and most likely less to make the most of it.  I'm already into number seven - the perspective I've gained about what I'm doing this year, this month, or even this week really emphasizes the importance of the today.  And just like that one pass on the tractor through the field in that one day affects the whole year's crop - and that farmer' chance - the lesson we taught this morning was our one chance to create knowledge, understanding, and application in our students' minds this year; we may not teach that lesson or unit again until 12 months from now.  And for those students in our class today - maybe they will experience it never again. Now how well are you using your chances?  No pressure.


I hope Mr. Buffett uses every chance to get another person to take a ride in his combine, understand the importance and complexity of today's agriculture, and become another advocate to help in the virtuous and vital mission of feeding the world.  I am hopeful of our chances, and I didn't even need to make a pass around the field to be on board.  But that is one combine ride I most certainly wouldn't pass up.


May your rows be straight and the rains timely, sir.  And let us all continue to help every person understand the importance and purpose of agriculture.



READER RESPONSE:  How are you using your chances to best influence the public and your students?

I rarely make resolutions. I tried last year while I was engaged and not even the prospect of being shoved into white dress in front of all of my friends and family and taking hundreds of pictures could persuade me from going to the gym or putting down the Dr. Pepper. But since I love my job, I think this year I can manage to keep some ag teacher resolutions. Enjoy them, hold me accountable to them, make some of your own.

Just don't judge my



Resolution Number 1:

Tone down the perfectionism.

This is my planner...I can only write in my planner using the designated planner pen...

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Being a perfectionist may very well be an unwritten prerequisite for entering an agriculture classroom. I could have showed a better video clip for that lesson intro... My classroom could have better wall decorations... the FFA bulletin board hasn't been changed in 3 months... My CDE team needs more work... The lab is in rough shape... I could have handled that issue on the officer team better... I need to hear that speech one more time...


I've often heard the quote, "Comparison is the thief of joy", but for me, the culprit here is perfectionism. It's ok to leave the shop in a mess sometimes, or submit a student-written Ag Issues portfolio that isn't going to win any major awards. Going home and worrying about something can't magically change it, so I resolve to sometimes take a deep breath, step away and be content with imperfection. Even imperfection in myself, which transitions well into...

Resolution Number 2:

Suck at something and embrace it.

This is me struggling with chemistry,

another something that I suck at.


The English teacher may call me about a plant issue and I have to admit that I had maybe 2 plant classes during my entire educational career. I know enough to expose my students to it (aka the "knowing a little about a lot" syndrome), but I will finally shout it from the mountaintop: I am not a plant person.  I dreaded teaching Greenhouse Management. I had two houseplants in my dorm in college and they died slow and painful deaths. I just like animals. They're cuddly and/or tasty.  So when the English teacher is disappointed because I had little insight into why that bug won't stop messing with her Azaleas, I will try not to feel shame and direct her to some good websites for help.


In the spirit of full disclosure, I must also admit... I'm bad at SAEs. FFA is my passion but every time I introduce freshman to SAEs I die a little inside because it isn't a perfect presentation (but like I said, I'm working on that, too). When you look at the list of accomplishments I've coached my students to, there is only one SAE-related one in 5 years of teaching. It's hard to talk about that when I'm a perfectionist because I wouldn't want my fellow teachers to think, heaven forbid!, I'm not the quintessential ag teacher. But refreshing things happen when you suck at something and embrace it. In admitting your area of weakness to another teacher, you may be surprised to hear, "Really? I actually love SAEs. I have some stuff to help you. I suck at teaching soils, do you have anything cool for that?" Which leads to my next point...

Resolution Number 3:

Share and share alike.

Don't know if this better illustrates the perfectionism or the sharing - my CDE files where I keep good stuff.


An inherent part of our job is competition. But is there a reason that we can't have some cooperation in there, too? Many of my fellow teachers have been exceedingly kind in sharing things with me, and I happily share anything I have, but...

More than a few times, there have been teachers who mention being awesome at something and in the same breath uttering, "But I can't share that with ya."  Let's just remember that our ultimate purpose to bring success, not necessarily a championship, to students. All students. My students, your students. So if that could happen from me emailing you my top-secret, high-tech, one-of-a-kind study guide for Parliamentary Procedure, then check your inbox.

Resolution Number 4:

Be purposeful about being grateful.

Owl thank you notes are a good way to go.


This one is simple but possibly the most measurable. I work with so many helpful, enthusiastic people that I often hear myself thinking, "Thank goodness for my Principal." But do I ever actually say that TO her? Probably not enough. I like mail and cards, so I often write thank you notes. I love baking, so cookies are good too. Sometimes an email just to say, "I really appreciated the way you stood up for the agriculture department during our meeting today." could mean the world. I typed that in about 5 seconds so... I have no reason not to be purposeful with my gratitude this year.

Resolution Number 5:

Professional Development is my friend.

Apply in December of 2014 for NATAA. You won't regret it!

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Last year I submitted my application to the DuPont Agriscience Ambassador Program and completely forgot all about it. I was accepted and as I packed up for my trip last June, I started getting anxious. I could stay home and get things done, what if I don't make friends with anyone this week, will this PD even be worth it? Going through that week in June changed my outlook on teaching forever. It should be the training every agriculture teacher receives before they're in the classroom. I am now a less anxious, happier teacher because of it. So let's resolve to broaden our horizons and remember that PD is a two letter abbreviation, not a four letter word.

Resolution Number 6:
Slow down and enjoy the little things.

Go ahead and pretend like you didn't cry when you watched this movie.

Enjoy the small things!

This is important, even if it's the last one. I talk about this the most with my fellow teachers. How will I have children and still teach? How do I spend enough time with my husband if 50% of my Saturdays are busy with FFA?  How can I enjoy doing something totally unrelated from work when the deadline for State Degree applications is in two weeks and they are still in rough shape?

Back away from the computer slowly and just say no.The emails can wait. The applications will get done. They always get done every year even though we always panic, right?  But children are not young forever. When I finally have one or two, they are only going to have a few years to wear a massively oversized soccer jersey and run clumsily down the field only to make exactly 0 goals. That movie my husband wants to see? It's only in the theater for a few weeks, and it's just not the same when you aren't shoving extremely over-priced popcorn into your mouth in public.

For all the other perfectionist, type A agriculture teachers who suck at something and spend lots of time stressing out over our jobs because we love it so much...

Let's enjoy the little things both in the classroom and at home in 2014.

On the first day of teaching ag, my FFA chapter gave to me: a POA submitted on time and completely correctly!


On the second day of teaching ag, my CASE Animal Science class gave to me: wearing proper PPE!


On the third day of teaching ag, my CASE Plant Science class gave to me: poster projects on The Life of a Tree!

Life of  Tree.JPG

On the fourth day of teaching ag, the incubator gave to me: bacterial culture plates for a lab on Animal Biosecurity!


On the fifth day of teaching ag, New Jersey Farm To School gave to me: the return of the MEWU WALL-E!


On the sixth day of teaching ag, some green thumbs gave to me: a greenhouse full of plants that are blooming and healthy!


On the seventh day of teaching ag, my FFA officers gave to me: attending a Saturday leadership conference with other FFA members from all over New Jersey!


On the eighth day of teaching ag, my Floriculture class gave to me: a community service project of making centerpieces!

SCL Centerpieces.JPG

On the ninth day of teaching ag, my FFA members gave to me: finally starting to use AET!


On the tenth day of teaching ag, Mother Nature gave to me: a snow day to catch up on sleep!


On the eleventh day of teaching ag, my community gave to me: a successful FFA fundraiser of selling wreaths!


On the twelfth day of teaching ag, the Teach Ag Campaign gave to me: the opportunity to serve as A Day In The Life blogger and share my teach ag story!


Happy holidays everyone!



Matt Eddy

High-tech aggie

Posted by Matt Eddy Dec 3, 2013

Just thought I would blog a bit while utilizing the $8 wifi at 36,000 feet.  I think it's safe to say with my travel record, it's a good thing I don't have to go far for my job.


While we wing our way to the NAAE conference in Las Vegas (or Lost Wages -- however you look at it) I had a chance to reflect on what a great profession and great conference we have laying ahead of us.  It's a great chance to connect, learn, and be inspired.


Now if they would only give out full cans of Dr. Pepper instead of the mini-cups. (guess Airline??)


If you haven't considered a foray to our annual professional conference -- please give it your utmost consideration in the future.


Here by choice and not by chance.


Tally Ho

Wes Crawford

Keep Calm and Teach On

Posted by Wes Crawford Nov 24, 2013

As it is now the week of Thanksgiving, cue the conversations to persist in the teacher break room:  "It's so busy this time of year...The kids are all wired up...This month is so crazy..."


Of course, ag teachers say the same thing about a) October/National Convention time, b) Proficiency season, c) fair season, d) state convention season, e) CDE season, f) beginning of school, g) end of school, h) summer, i) spring...you get the picture.  In fact, it is too easy to get wrapped up with all the extra things going on and demands upon us that it's not hard to feel overwhelmed, no matter how long you've been teaching.


This year has been a particularly interesting one for everyone at our high school.  August in-service was the start for a whole host of changes and new challenges for us:

- a new grading system that didn't work as advertised,

- a new state-mandated evaluation and goals system that was less than clear,

- a new standards-based report card that caused some neighboring schools to jump over the cliff of proficiency-based grading (only to try to climb back up within two weeks),

- new graduation requirements that over 50% of the seniors in Oregon weren't meeting at the beginning of the school year,

- ramping up to take on the Smarter Balanced assessment with the Common Core,

- all on top of the usual hustle and bustle of paper-work, meetings, challenges, and tasks.


Depending on who you talk to, the last twelves weeks have either been a six-month sentence or a six-minute blur.  Either way, everyone agrees:  it's a lot on the plate and some are feeling the stress.  Every educator knows the job goes a long ways beyond the classroom hours, ag teacher or otherwise.  It's time like these that I go to my default:


I teach kids.


It's too easy to get distracted by all these other items that we forget what job number one is:  educate youth.  So when push comes to shove, my classroom comes first.  I focus on having great curriculum prepared for great kids.  I HATE grading but value the feedback it gives students on how they are doing, so I get it done.  I make sure that when the bell rings that I am ready, and now that they are experienced they know they should be ready too.  Here we go.


So folks, Keep Calm and Teach On.  That's what we are here to do.  There are a lot of other important things we need to do, but don't lose sight of priorities, regardless of what happens.


When your 50 minute lesson plan is complete at 20 minutes, Keep Calm and Teach On.

When the Department of Eduction releases its newest/next-generation/common-competency-objectives-proficiencies/latest reform, Keep Calm and Teach On.

When you have your kids running around with notched pig ears taped to their head identifying numbering and your assistant principal walks in, Keep Calm and Teach On.

When the LCD projector bulb burns out and the overhead stops working, Keep Calm and Teach On.

When you are two weeks behind of turning in purchase orders, Keep Calm and Teach On.

When the power is out and you teach welding this period, grab the chalk, Keep Calm and Teach On.

When you're in charge of three local and regional committees who are all meeting next week, Keep Calm and Teach On.

When you've scheduled a trip and the bus is 30 minutes late in showing up, Keep Calm and Teach On.

When you get the email saying your re-licensure paperwork is due next week, Keep Calm and get it done so you can Teach On.

When you are on a field trip in the middle of nowhere studying rangeland and a student falls fourteen feet into a hole at a BLM recreation site, Keep Calm and call the closest ag teacher who lives ten miles away.  Then Teach On.


Keep Calm folks.  We're ag teachers.  Do what we do best.




READER RESPONSE:  what curve balls do you deal with and just have to Keep Calm and Teach On?  Add them in the comments!

Tiffany Morey

Those Kids

Posted by Tiffany Morey Nov 18, 2013

We all have those students known as "those kids". Most of the time we think of "those kids" as the ones that push our buttons and make us want to pull our hair out. But, we also have "those kids" that truly love ag and FFA and make it worth coming to work on the days when the other "those kids" drive us crazy. Sometimes, "those kids" that we really enjoy having students aren't the ones we have time to focus on, but today, I'd like to recognize them. For "those kids" who I am lucky enough to call my students, this one is for you.


Our FFA officers are often the best of the best of "those kids". The go above and beyond what is expected of them as an FFA member, and dedicate themselves to improving not only themselves as leaders and team players, but also their FFA chapters. "Those kids" take the extra initiative to make sure that their FFA chapter is the best it can be, and dedicate countless extra hours to preparing for meetings and fundraisers, writing the POA, and assisting their fellow members. They put the good of the chapter before themselves, and often the ones keeping their advisors sane when things get busy! We can't have successful FFA chapters without them, and getting the chance to work with "those kids" to see them develop and grow is one of the best parts of being an FFA advisor!


Some of "those kids" who are my chapter officers.


FFA members are also some of "those kids". They challenge themselves by participating in FFA activities and competing in CDEs. By working together with their teammates, they are able to accomplish things that improve their chapter and garner them recognition for their hard work. While they might not all aspire to be chapter officers, "those kids" want to better themselves by becoming FFA members and aren't afraid to acknowledge their love of ag. We need them to keep the FFA tradition alive, and they make being an advisor such a rewarding experience.


Some of "those kids" who are great middle and high school FFA members posing with Nancy Trivette.


"Those kids" who are good students in our ag classes are also important. They might not be FFA members, but they also have a passion for ag and are the future of the many different ag industries. They take pride in their work, and are the force behind the many moments of educational magic that happen in our ag ed classes. "Those kids" are leaders in the classroom, and understand the value and importance of hard work when it comes to academics. They will fill future agricultural career positions and without them, "those kids" who want to take ag classes and get something out of it, we ag teachers would not have jobs.


Last but not least, there are "those kids" who want to become ag teachers. They are the rarest, and perhaps the most special and most important variety of "those kids". Without them, the future of ag education would be bleak. We need "those kids" to fill ag teaching positions and to continue the rich tradition of teaching ag. "Those kids" are the ones who are the greatest pleasure to teach and the greatest treasure to discover.

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One of my students who is one of  "those kids" who wants to become a future ag teacher. (Image created by and borrowed from Robin McLean.)


In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I ask all of you to take a moment and recognize "those kids" that you are thankful to have the opportunity to educate. They make our job as ag teachers worth it and make us feel like our hard work is appreciated. Hope everyone has a safe and Happy Thanksgiving and look for S'Morey soon!



National FFA Convention makes my job so easy... the laser show, the theme song, the massive expo, the wallet-draining mall. It never fails that my students always come away inspired and awestruck. The last time members from my new chapter attended a convention, the George Bush (the first one) was President and I was getting ready to go to Kindergarten. The previous teacher never made this trip with his students. Suffice to say, they were unaware of what awaited them in Louisville last week (a mere 2.5 hour drive from our high school.)

When they found out that my birthday was the Saturday of convention, they showered me with many gifts, but I want to share the best one with you today as my way of saying Happy Friday.

After insisting that I meet with them before we went to dinner one night, they gave me what they appropriately called an FFA rose, or a blue and yellow wax rose from the FFA mall. (Y'all know what I'm talking about. That booth may be as old as the FFA itself). The "card" they gave me was a picture from the amazing Teach Ag Booth. (Ready, Ellen Thompson?) As I pulled the picture from the bag, Maddie, a sophomore, said,

"Happy Birthday, I'm going to be an agriculture teacher!"

What YOU get for YOUR birthday?

Today Maddie saw me wearing my Teach Ag jacket (because it is unseasonably COLD here in the Volunteer State) and asked me how I got it. When I explained that I get to blog about why my job is the , she loved that there was a national platform for young people who are considering joining our profession. So if you will, lend Maddie your ears and hear why she wants to join the ranks of crazy agriculture teachers everywhere.



"I was inspired to teach ag after learning about how much agriculture really effects our lives each and every day. Not everyone understands just how important our industry is. I plan to share that with as many people as I come in contact with. Teenagers and young adults need to be aware of what we do and that agriculture is about so much more than farming.

I want to inspire others to want to wear our blue corduroy jacket because it'll never go out of style. I plan to show FFA members that our jackets represent our past and all that we have the potential to become. We are the future of agriculture. Whether you want to be a farmer, a marine biologist, a veterinarian, or an agriculture teacher, our industry depends on you. If you're wondering if this career is right for you, here's what I know: if you love the blue and gold as much as I do, you'll want to be a part of it forever.  By choosing a career as an agriculture teacher and FFA advisor, you will!"    

-Maddie, sophomore at McGavock High School

If you were like me last and week and was actually in the classroom and not waiting for a table in a Joe's Crabshack next to the Ohio River, you were probably still aware that something big was going on.


While our chapter has made it to the past three national conventions, we didn't attend the re-inaugural Kentucky convention.  As it's a 36 hour drive over 2,381 miles of highway (37 hours in the traffic right now as I Google Maps it), we traditionally don't make the trip unless we have a team competing.  And while some traditions are due for a rewrite, we just haven't gotten over that hump yet.


However, thanks to the times we are well aware that the National Convention is indeed going on strong.  In fact, if you're paying attention, there are all sorts of indicators that 50,000 of your closest friends left you behind and headed to Churchill Downs, amongst other things.


So how can you tell?  Here are some handy signs:


1 - The emails across the US Ag Ed Listserv about concert tickets/opening session tickets/hypnotist tickets/rodeo tickets abruptly stop. I think that if you tallied up the Subject Lines the national listserv is used for (which if you aren't on it, you should be) it would be 1) "Monday Morning Monitor", 2) "Job Postings in (state) -or- at National FFA", and 3) "Need 3 tickets to Opening Session B!"


2 - No other ag teacher responds to your emails.  Come on people, I'm just trying to get the plant order together...


3 - You get phone calls from community members who are watching it on RFD-TV.  "Just wanted to know if you were there, we couldn't find you in the crowd..."


4 - Your Facebook/Twitter feed blows up during the CDE Awards banquets Thursday/Friday. This is what happens when all your friends are ag teachers.


5 - You post your blog on CoP a week after you write it in the hopes someone will actually see it.  I had it last week, but figured to wait until people were home.  Wishful thinking perhaps.


Welcome home all.  Hope to see you there next year.


READER RESPONSE:  What are the signs of Convention in your neck of the woods?

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