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NAAE Convention

Posted by Jessica Fernandes Nov 30, 2010

Seriously, the best professional development event I have ever attended!! More workshops than you could dream of going to, awesome opportunities to interact with fellow teachers and so much stuff to see, do and take home!!  I have been teaching for 11 years and have attended many conferences. 2009 was my first NAAE conference experience and it made me ask - why do I go to any other conferences. Become a member, go to the conference, experience it for yourself and you will see that there are only amazing benefits to this organization!!

Matt Eddy

Why go to NAAE Convention?

Posted by Matt Eddy Nov 29, 2010

I really think that this is a touchier subject than most, but will plow ahead anyway.


Why not?  Really.


Doesn't it seem somewhat hypocritical to push, prod and cajole Ag Ed students to become FFA members - for the leadership opportunities, career development, yada, yada, yada AND then turn around and say we are too busy to participate in our professional organization - too busy for the leadership opportunities, career development, yada, yada, yada??    Attending NAAE makes me a better Ag Teacher.  I know being out of class is tough, but I always said I was going to teach Ag, not school.


My NAAE experiences (all two of them - had to miss last year to bring Olivia into the world - although I had little to do with it at that point ) have exceeded my expectations every time and I find myself wishing I had attended earlier.  I find it invigorating to be among my peers -- the peers who are literally setting the world on fire.  Their energy and enthusiasm is contagious.  It makes me excited and proud to be considered their colleague.  It also makes me want to do better. "Rising tide floats all boats".  I doubt I will miss another NAAE or Region III convention if I can help it.


Workshops:  Professional development can come in all shapes and sizes, but keeping ourselves on the cutting edge of what's out there and what's coming down the road is imperative.  In our state, the Ag Ed network is usually on-top-of or ahead-of most trends coming down the pike.  Nationally, I see that as well. We are usually the front runners and collectively lead the CTE areas in being able to share and disseminate information quickly and efficiently.  Maybe it's just the 'rural' thing we all have about us.  So, NAAE convention sets me up for the tips and trends in Ag Education and professionally allows me to grow in my position as an Ag Teacher.


Networking:The ability to talk with instructors from other parts of the region and country is my favorite part of convention -- only by exchanging ideas will be become richer.  This particular poem was found in "Forward FFA" (anybody have a copy of that? I could only borrow the one a student brought in for a few days.  It was found in an old house they were tearing down.)


The Cooperation that we share as Ag Instructors is invaluable.  Especially since a large majority of us are the 'lone wolf' in our school systems and rarely get to collaborate with those who are our professional counterparts.




“You have a dollar.

I have a dollar.

We swap.

Now you have my dollar

And I have yours.

We are no better off.


You have an idea.

I have an idea;

We swap.

And I have two ideas.

Both are richer.

What you gave you have.

What you get I did not lose.

This is co-operation.”


Some obscurity today in my blog.  The "Forward FFA" circa 1940 something was a pretty good read and still poignant today.


So if you haven't been to NAAE before, consider going.  It's worth every penny it takes to get you there ... and sometimes you need to sharpen the saw.

10.  The opportunity to ease your mind by building personal projects or by helping students build projects in the shop.


9.  The opportunity to travel all over your state and country while attending FFA activities.


8.  The crazy opportunity of collecting things we would have never dreamed of collecting before: bugs, grasses, tree limbs, and even dead animals.


7.  The opportunity of staying in a variety of hotel rooms as we take our students all over our state and country.


6.  The opportunity of showing our competitive side while training Career Development Events.


5.  The opportunity to attend stock shows, work with students and their animals, and the opportunity to serve as Mini-Veterinarians.


4.  The opportunity to help out our homes and communities by providing amazing community service projects.


3.  The opportunity for making ourselves set goals and the opportunity of teaching students to set and accomplish goals.


2.  The continued opportunity to belong and participate in the National FFA Organization.


1. The greatest opportunity, the opportunity of working with "KIDS".


"Find a job you truly love, you will never work a day in your life."


"Surround yourself with positive people, and you yourself will be positive."

Matt Eddy

Tuesday / Wednesday

Posted by Matt Eddy Nov 24, 2010

Yes - I'm going to punt.  Deep in my own endzone, time running out on the clock - I'm pulling the guards, selling out, blitzing the linebackers and calling an audible.  Or something like that.



Tuesday: Yesterday was a good day in the life.  We are kicking off our poinsettia sale - not many really - 50 or so.  My greenhouse isn't up to speed quite yet and next year looks probable for a better sale.  This years class has been different - it's interesting how different kids change the dynamic of classes.  This years class on the whole has been less willing to 'dig in' and really take some ownership.  I'm not sure why.  I have been reflecting on my methods some, the activities some, and just the fact that by 7th period - I'm running a bit low on energy.  They have performed pretty well, but just not up to my expectations.  I guess that is what those outside of our profession don't understand -- every year is different.  We are not turning out widgets, but dealing with individualized students who all start and end at different points on the educational spectrum.


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Wednesday: Big CASE day today.  My AFNR (Ag Food and Natural Resources) students are completing 3.1.3 lab on using the Vernier handhelds and sensors. (or probes, if you want to illicit a giggle from your freshman)  First period went off like clockwork and they did admirably.


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If the other to periods go like that, my Thanksgiving will be giving thanks for CASE.  My Animal Science class is working on 3.1.4 on animal facilities and will work on that project most of next week while I am at NAAE in Las Vegas.  I am hoping that by working with them today and Monday -- they should be able to carry on in my absence with little guidance from the sub.  I know they can, its just will they?



I can't believe it's almost here.  I hope that I will find time to blog a bit, but with Vegas being Vegas - you never know.  Has anyone else just been telling people that they are going to the National Ag Teachers conference? Without the location??  I have -- it seems to get a better acceptance.  When I say I am going to a conference and I mention the town - everyone gets this weird look in their eye and that scoffy attitude of ''sure you are''.  It isn't my fault that Las Vegas happens to be a convention Mecca for space and hotel rooms...


My three rules for Vegas:

  1. No evidence

  2. Sleep is optional

  3. Carribean Stud, Pai-Gow and Texas Hold'em will be played.


So dig up some mason jars, reach under your mattresses and let's go have us a good time.  Country comes to town!



Enjoy the Thanksgiving Holiday and if the ground doesn't freeze and I can get some tractor seat-time in -- that'll be the bees knees.  Pass the stuffing....

"Guest Speakers"

Posted by Jessica Fernandes Nov 23, 2010

It was an early Friday morning this last week. Worried students would be squirly and unruly because we were getting out for Thanksgiving break - I can honestly say I was not looking forward to conducting our soils lab in Ag Earth Science. My skepticism would soon be put aside, my mood brightened and the day looking up. My assistant, Samantha showed up with Starbucks! Samantha (Ms. V) is a senior at Cal Poly Pomona, studying to be an ag teacher and working for us at Buena Park High School forty hours a week. She works with the students on their SAE's primarily poultry and beef and she is our vegetable team coach as well as our farm hand. Samantha has been looking to get more classroom time. She helps out with our ornamental horticulture students, and lately she has been enrolled in some soils classes at college. Samantha came through the door, saw that we were doing soils testing in my freshman classes and immediately became excited like a little kid at Christmas. She began asking me all sorts of questions about the soils lab.  It became clear very quickly that Samantha needed to teach class today. I announced to each class that we had a guest speaker. Ms. V, many of them know her from their farm projects but they were excited to see her! To see the kids faces light up as Samantha shared her knowledge of soils was amazing!! I assisted during the lab, students were involved, interested and learning, did I mention their behavior was flawless! Samantha's performance lit a fire under me too! She was great with the students, a real natural. Her and I both knew that the true test would be fourth and fifth period with 36 and 41 wonderful freshman right before lunch!!  Honestly folks - I am in utter amazement and shock, we are in the tenth week of school and the students just exhibited the best behavior I have ever seen. Again, even with that many students - they were all engaged and excited, talking with Ms. V about teaching ag, soils and FFA, it was inspiring.


Alas I have been enlightened again - the day before a big holiday students can still be engaged and excited to be in our classrooms!! Samantha overcame the challenge like she was an old pro. I remembered how much the students gain from guest speakers, unique experiences and outside opinions. The day made me thankful for my job my students and the people like Samantha that I work with.  Despite the everday grind of science standards, farm management and paperwork the light in the students eyes is INSPIRING!!!


With a new invigoration my top ten reasons to be an ag teacher:

10. No two days are alike

9. There is always a new project to sink your teeth into

8. Student Engagement

7. The ability to make science more exciting for students

6. The ability to educate the students and the community about agriculture

5. SAE projects

4. FFA activities

3. Student leadership teams

2. Inspiring co-workers

1. Student SMILES!!


It truly is the best job you could ever have!! - Even on the rough days when we are just tired, we get to make a difference!! If you are not already doing it - you should start today!!

Matt Eddy

AI Monday

Posted by Matt Eddy Nov 22, 2010

Shouldn't we all have colorful days to start the week?  Except for the damp, drizzly, 37 degree weather, we had a good day.  No kids, cows or equipment was damaged, and the cussin' was held to a minimum.  It was a day where 90% of the work was done by the kids.  I enjoyed standing in the back, making jokes and generally enjoying myself.  My kind of teaching.  We rotated jobs around as best we could so each student could experience a different aspect of the working process.  A couple of the smaller ones had trouble pulling down the catch gates in the alley way, but they managed.  The only cow OR calf to make it thru the headgate without getting caught was the one the vet did.... so the kids should feel good about that.


Today was the AI (Artificial Insemination, for those who are not up on the 'lingo') lab for my Advanced Animal Science lab and we bred the 23 cow candidates for the Animal Learning Center at the Iowa State Fair.  Yes, we were aiming a bit late, but we like to 'time' delivery as much as possible to have calves during the day and while the crowds are around.  Coupled with that are light birthweight bulls (calving ease) and several cows who went 7 days ahead of their scheduled birthdate last year lead us to run a bit later than the August 23rd close of the Iowa State Fair.  Let's hope that all works out.  Getting calves to come in a 12 day window is pretty daunting.  Some of the class and I will look over the records tomorrow and wednesday to decifer the differences in bulls and make some guesses on how things will turn out.  Guess we will know in January which ones we can make plans for.


If you haven't worked cattle thru a tub before, I HIGHLY recommend it.  So much easier on cattle, people and my vocabulary.  Just the second time thru this PALCO set up and my high school students were working it like champions.  Our speed was really not up to anything professional, but I told them I would rather do the job right, than do it quickly.  Genex worked with my students on bull selection and we used several different sires with the eclectic bunch of cows that we have in the herd. Students are working with everything from some 'mutts' to some that would make a home in almost anyone's show string.  Now if we can get them to settle and calve at the fair.


As I stare down this short week, I am reminded to be thankful for a career where I can make a difference, be successful in helping students find a career path that will benefit them into their futures.







Matt Eddy

Finally Friday...

Posted by Matt Eddy Nov 21, 2010

Not much today - I'm tired.  No harm became any kid, cow or equipment (listed in order of importance).  Hopefully AI will go better for cows on Monday.  First time thru the tub was a little cumbersome, but probably in the top 25% as far as my cow working experiences go.  With HS kids with no experience.  Gotta love the right equipment and cows with the right temperament.  Timed out at 25 head in 3 hours.  Don't suspect we will start a cow-hand for hire business anytime soon.


ALC Progest 3.JPG

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Kellie Claflin


Posted by Kellie Claflin Nov 21, 2010

I am thankful for many things in life. Near the top of my list are the amazing ag teachers for across the country. I am continuously amazed at the amazing things going on in agriculture classrooms and how much teachers care about not only their students, but also future ag teachers. Over the past four years I've had the opportunity to observe and teach in several area ag programs and have always been welcomed in with open arms.


This past week I've been observing at Baldwin-Woodville to meet the field experience requirements for my content area reading class. It's always very refreshing to be able to get back into the classroom. It's so easy for me to get wrapped up in college life (classes, organizations, and work) that I forget what it's like to be in a classroom (and in the hallway during passing time - uff da!). Over the past week I've helped eighth graders learn about FFA, spent time putting up shade cloth in the greenhouse, and observed small animal and intro to ag classes. My highlight was getting to see the second graders come visit the poinsettias they are growing to give to their parents. They were so excited!!! A big thanks to Ms. Kamm for letting me invade her classroom!


On Thursday night our Alpha Tau Alpha group at River Falls traveled to New Richmond to visit with Rachel Sauvola and see her brand new classroom! It was fun to see the new facilities including an aquaculture lab, greenhouse, animal learning center, along with a school tour. While we get experience in the classroom through observation hours, it's nice to connect with teachers through organizations like ATA as well. We are able to ask burning questions about teaching and hear about life in the trenches as an ag teacher. Thank you Ms. Sauvola for welcoming UWRF students into your classroom! And thank you to all teachers that help to mentor pre-service teachers - we are all very thankful!!!




My new favorite saying:


Matt Eddy


Posted by Matt Eddy Nov 18, 2010


Back at school -- prepping CASE labs today in AFNR (Freshman Ag Science) and ASA (Animal Science).  Both labs went off rather well despite the ag teacher and my kids really seemed to like them.  We laughed and joked along with completing the prescribed activities.  I sure like being the facilitator of knowledge... Both labs will need to be followed up with tomorrow and on to the next lessons - some of which I have to miss to take the Advanced Animal Science class out to give Progesterone shots for our AI program on Monday.  NAAE is looming on the horizon, so I suspect I need to start some prep work.


After school - Working with a freshman girl on her shrimp experiment SAE set up. A great example of just giving kids some room and latitude and watch them go.  I helped cut some PVC pipe, but have been blogging while she prepares her 55 gallon experiment tank.  Now if we can only catch some of the shrimp in the big tank....



After a hard week, my Thursday night respite at the pool hall will be welcomed with open arms.  I haven't played in two weeks.  I'm starting to get jittery and my Carmeli is probably aching for some release from the confines of the case.  I hear a good 1-pocket match might go off tonight -- it'd be fun to watch if it does.  "Fats, lets you and me shoot a game of pool"...

CASE 3.1.2 AFNR  16.JPGCASE 3.1.2 AFNR 31.JPG


CASE 3.1.2 AFNR 24.JPGCASE 3.1.2 AFNR  13.JPGCASE 3.1.2 AFNR 29.JPGCASE 3.1.2 AFNR 23.JPG

Matt Eddy


Posted by Matt Eddy Nov 18, 2010


Group Picture day due to the late start of staff in-service.  I think we had the largest turn out yet, according to the officers.  I hope to see the picture soon to tell.  The officers really did a nice job helping to coordinate this event and with me being MIA trucking cows it was a nice reassurance that my kids can take care of business.  I muse alot about what would happen if I could totally step off the radar -- would things chug along or would the wheels come off?  I hope the former and not the latter.  Maybe I can't step far enough away to let that happen.... but I wonder about that a lot when I can't sleep at 3 am....


Loaded cattle this AM to drive for Tama Livestock Auction.  Picked up our borrowed trailer and truck from an advisory committee member; kids at the school, and started our two stop route by first light. (and there isn't much of it anymore... stupid DST). Most everything went off smoothly and the kids along for the trip enjoyed their first trip to a livestock auction.  One wanted to know why they were selling cattle for $100 a head "No, 'Joe' - that's $1.00 a pound." ... "HOT GAZOOBIES, I didn't know they were that much"....(Okay, maybe he didn't say hot gazoobies)  Ah, some good old fashioned Sale Barn Education.  There are a lot of lessons to be learned at an auction.  My students commented on the ability to bid via the web.  My thought was it may be possible, but the social aspects of the auction barn are hard to replicate on a computer monitor.  Who buys what, when and why are always the subtleties of the undercurrents below the obvious flow of the auction. 


We could only stay a while in order to return to school at the end of the day and all.  I guess we only saw about $500,000 exchange hands.  The kids were impressed that over 1 million dollars could pass thru that barn that day and probably more that that did.  Who said Ag wasn't cool??


The sub left two notes: My gate guy dropped of 10 panels to be used for our corral on Friday - nice.  And one student needed and took a T-shirt/Sweatshirt for the pictures and will bring me a check tomorrow -- and wouldn't you know -- she did.  First thing before school.  Makes a 'feller feel all good about how things work in my absence.

Matt Eddy


Posted by Matt Eddy Nov 18, 2010 laid plans of mice and men; and Ag Teachers.


I had intended on blogging each day this week -- and next to get up to Thanksgiving Break -- Think of it like my own dash for the cash; race for the chase; -- you get the idea.


My intentions were good.  Guess more bricks for that proverbial paving job.



I got off the weird day monday with full day Tuesday that had really no big hitches.  I prepped my classes for Wednesday along with teaching tuesday's content.  With CASE, it was a lot easier to move some things around, so students could be working independently while I wasn't present, and were doing activites that needed closer instructor involvement while I was.  So far, it has worked out pretty well this week.  More of that on Thursday.


A student observer from Iowa State University was present this week starting today.  I really enjoy having them come to observe, but I feel a little chagrin that I really can't devote more time to talking with them than I do.  In the rush of a regular school day, I try to shoehorn in some time to answer their questions.  Although, I'm sure my own long-windedness on certain topics also causes some of the same problems... let's all turn in our hymnals to chapter 13, verse 4 of the Gospel of Eddy.  sigh... I wish I didn't have to get up on my pulpit so often, but after seeing lots of different versions of Ag Ed across our region and our nation, I kinda feel like I need to.  "A mind streatched by new ideas, never regains it's original shape."

I tire quickly of people who brag.  I don't even like the word "brag" at some primal level.  With that said, I am going to brag today.


Yes, the irony is there.  My older students know I have a short tolerance for excessive celebration about themselves in front of others.  Can we be happy about what we did?  Sure.  Can we pat ourselves on the back for a job well done?  You bet; be proud of what we do!  Do you have to tell everyone and their dog how individually awesome you are for the sake of comparison?  Now you're lame.  I have one younger student who has yet to master this concept of sportsmanship; in fact, he once asked if I ever brag to the other teachers when we win CDEs.  It was incomprehensible that I did not.


And no, it's not just because one of the other ag teachers around here is my wife.


Yet, I still feel the need to brag about my students today, after what was for the rest of our school a four day weekend (Veteran's Day and Friday were days off) but for ten Sutherlin FFA members was 3 days of fence building, a task that became worthy of a reality TV show.  Here's the gist:


Backstory:  Our land lab is leased from the local irrigation and water control district, has been for nearly 30 years.  The local director is replacing fence around the reservoir and offered to pay the FFA to do it as a fundraiser, instead of hiring the county work crew.  I am all about real work for real money (I inherited a strong dislike of bake sales and car washes from my former ag teacher, as many groups already do them), so with kids on board we signed on.


The Timeframe:  We begin our tale Thursday afternoon, following the local Veteran's Day parades (after all, the point of the day off is so you can participate in such activities).  We begin deconstruction (our specialty) in order to clean the slate for the new fence.  We all agree we want to get this project done this weekend, so we don't have to worry about it later.


The Drama:  Like any good episode of Deadliest Catch, something must go awry.  And so it does:  the irrigation district director bought 1047 field fence wire for posts that were put in the ground for 39" tall wire, so it had to all be taken back.  Then a shear bolt sheared off on the tractor auger.  Then the cattle were in the next field that were supposed to be gone.  Then someone lost the screwdrivers for putting up fence clips.  Then the chain was missing.  Then the crossmembers were put on too high for the H-braces.  Then the drill batteries went dead.  Then we ran out of fence clips.  Then the director drove off with the extra fence clips.  Then it rained.  Then the brace wire snapped.  Then I poked a hole in my thumbnail with barb wire.


And so on...


The Bragging: Too often people complain about the work ethic of today's youth.  To be fair, I can offer several examples.  But this weekend, those kids met each morning at 8am and worked solid until dark every day.  There was no complaining, no shirking, no sitting down on the job, no avoiding tasks.  They were there to get a job done, and that's what they did.  They took care in their work, took apart what needed to be redone right, and had a pretty good attitude the whole time.  These days I wonder if I could find a dozen adults with the same abilities.  None of us really wanted to be there at 5:15pm Saturday evening, but we finished what we could and got the job done.


And so today, I brag not about myself, because I really can't take credit for much more than being able to teach some great kids.  I brag about ten students who put in the time and got the job done.  They are prime examples of what the individuals involved in agricultural education should possess.


But I guess I can brag a litte, because I get to teach them.  And not everybody gets that kind of pleasure.


Share the accomplishments of your students!  If there is one thing that truly keeps us in the business, it's their success!

Matt Eddy


Posted by Matt Eddy Nov 15, 2010

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.


What better profession than education to make lasting impacts in this world.  The only thing is you have to be patient.  I used to raise cattle and corn, so I guess I can wait....


Career Day:  Big Kudos to the CTE teachers in my school who have prepped this great career day.  Our entire student body - 1765 of them -- have been scheduled into two presenters this morning from the CTE world.  I'm twice tickled because I didn't do much with this except provide a list of names and contacts from my vocational area.  That's right -- I used the "V" word.  Each student will see two career presentations to help promote the options available to them and what types of education it could take.  We all know that some 'good jobs' that make 'good money' don't require a four year degree from a university.  Unfortunately, kids are sold the bogus bill of goods, that college prep education equates to success.


If you get a chance -- check out this link.  It's a good food for thought type of presentation. Shifting paradigms type of stuff.


Chute: We picked up our PALCO all-in-one chute/alley/tub this morning as well.  This will make our Animal Learning Center experience infinitely more palatable.  Thanks to PALCO and APACHE for their help.  My students will be much safer as we were really not set up to handle beef animals in a manner than I would like to show the public. We really had a pretty raw approach and while functional, the safety factor wasn't very good.  Sometimes the cowboy methods need to stay on the ranch.  Now my students will be easily able to manage, process and complete necessary vet work in a safe and reliable system.  I can't wait to get it set up and process the first batch Friday.  We will really put it thru the paces on Monday when we AI the cows.


PALCO chute8.JPGPALCO chute1.JPG


Aside from the day being creatively constructed to accommodate career day (A rousing success), I hope to get the chute out to the farm, finish the set up, have a regular day Tuesday, take cull cows to Tama on Wednesday, regular day on Thursday and work cows Friday morning - our estrus protocol has some preparation at 72 hours ahead of AI.


Stay tuned - more tomorrow.


Join in on the fun:  Twitter - @AgEd4ME or Facebook -!/Matthew.Eddy147 or!/pages/Pleasant-Hill-IA/Southeast-Polk-FFA-Chapter/102061871987

Matt Eddy

Bailing out...

Posted by Matt Eddy Nov 13, 2010

A great collegue once told me "Good kids make bad decisions."  As long as I teach, I hope to keep remembering that.


My only student who wanted to go to the new 212/360 conference in our BRAND NEW FFA Enrichment Center asked late -- I pulled the apporpriate strings, paid off the local officials and got her in late.  Two days before we were to go, she bails.  Grrrr...


So here I am -- I made committments, when I had a student attending, to meetings with other ag teachers since we would be in the same place at the same time.  Last night and today - making lemonade out of my lemons.


Good thing I live a literal 5 minutes from the new Enrichment Center....


Sure glad it's raining.

Matt Eddy


Posted by Matt Eddy Nov 12, 2010

Motley Crue - Same 'ol Situation.... Rocking out this morning.


Today's Agenda:

  • Grades are due at 3.  Meaning I should start instead of writing this.
  • Rain - It's 39 degrees and raining - meaning I'm not going outside for anything today.  Creative planning to commence shortly.  You haven't really taught if your lesson plans didn't depend on weather, cattle, or a guest speaker who's schedule depended on those two things.
  • SAE - Got a student started today with a research project in our lab. Different feedstuffs and their effect on growth rate of our freshwater prawn.  First try with something of this nature, so it should be interesting.  She's a bright girl, so it shouldn't be too bad.
  • Student teacher - my spring student teacher is in observing today.  At least I can serve as a good example of what NOT to do.
  • Poinsettia Sale - Greenhouse kids are prepping a sales blitz on poinsettia.  Hopefully we can get that project finished today.  Several of my 'rambunctious' fellows are finishing a couple greenhouse fixes.  They don't hold many books with learning, but they can creatively engineer fixes to our greenhouse problems like Einstein.  Just goes to show, Ag Ed can teach 'em all.
  • Protein tubs for the cows are smelling up my shop.  Smells good to me, but the kids seem adverse to the aroma.
  • A better day yesterday from the sub -- ironically they watched a Modern Marvel -- Kids seem to eat them up like candy.  So i try to feed sparingly.
  • TGIF
  • Get to go to 212/360 conference tonight.  Should be fun.  I enjoy reuniting with other Ag teachers as we collaborate and commiserate.

Okay - I think Jan is right -- we can talk about the good things.  It won't kill us.  Maybe....


Here is the beginning.  Reply to this thread with your top reasons.  Maybe we can end up with 11 or 12... LOL


  1. Making a Difference is students lives.
  2. I get to teach agriculture not school. (there is a difference)
  3. Teaching about your passion to students who have that same passion.  Priceless!
  4. Getting paid to go to Fairs, Contests and Leadership camps.
  5. NAAE in Las Vegas... Use your imagination.
  6. I get to refine my ability to creatively requisition everything I need. (Beg, Borrow and Steal clause)
  7. Ag Ed Network -- I can find out about anything or anyone in the state by calling the local Ag Teacher.
  8. National Convention - We get to go every year.
  9. Your the coolest teacher in school - especially on digestive tract day.
  10. Make your addition below...!

It occurred to me as I looked over the past few blogs including my own that if we really want to encourage more people to select teaching Agriculture as a career we might scare off quite a few with all the talk of long hours and seemingly never ending demands on our time. Those demands are certainly true and I know that sometimes just venting about them helps but the reality is that teaching Ag is so rewarding that it far outweighs the negatives - and truth be told I don't know any Ag Teachers that, if asked what they would give up if they could (FFA meetings after school, CDE's, Professional Development meetings, etc.) would actually choose to give up anything. Ok - for me I could do with less administrative meetings - the ones that really have nothing to do with my students where I spend time trying to bring yet another administrator up to speed on some campus issue knowing that within a few years they will move on - its the price of being at a place long enough to "know where all the bodies are buried" as we say in New Jersey. Actually I often threaten to bury a few since we do have the equipment to handle that.


But back to the rewards - for me it's going to a New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association meeting and reconnecting with graduates who choose to become members and who learned the value of giving back (perhaps because of something I said or did); it's seeing the student at graduation who, when he or she started, had no confidence in their ability to learn or do anything academically; it's meeting parents on graduation day who shake your hand and thank you for what you did - and then they proceed to tell you want you did and you can't believe their kid actually got all that from you! Its the appreciation on a kid's face when they mess up and you don't judge them for it but help them get back on track; it's the kids who thank you but its also the ones who don't but who you know benefited. It's little surprises like stumbling on a community blog and finding that you and your classes are talked about as a "must take" for anyone who really wants to learn about plants. I could go on and on and I know that all Ag teachers would say the same - we may never get rich monetarily doing this but our lives are incredibly rich in many other ways. So, allow us to vent occasionally but know that we all love what we do!

I think I am a better teacher today than I was a few years ago. That may sound like bragging but I don't mean it that way - I say it because I have learned some better ways to reach my students - and especially through more interactive lessons in the classroom. The changes were actually driven because we have been involved for over 10 years with online courses and more recently with hybrid courses. It is so important when students take a hybrid or online class that they feel connected to the class - to the community of students and faculty that make up the class. It is so easy as a student to feel isolated (especially with online classes) so I found myself developing lots of collaborative activities that students can do when the classes meet. They worked so well that I continued the use of these lessons with my face-to-face classes.  I lecture less and facilitate more and the student success and satisfaction has improved. At first they wanted me to provide all the answers but after a few weeks they learned that it was a lot more fun to find the answers themselves.  Those of you using CASE know what I am talking about since that is very much the way CASE works. Our world is changing so fast that if our students can't think on their feet they will not succeed. If they don't learn that sometimes there really is more than one way to solve a problem they may fail to solve many future problems. Plus it is so cool to watch them figure out a problem on their own. Its ok to not have control ALL the time - its more than ok - I strongly recommend it.

Kellie Claflin

Being me

Posted by Kellie Claflin Nov 10, 2010

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." --Oscar Wilde


One of the most important lessons that I've learned in college (and there have been plenty!) is the importance of being myself. In high school it was always a struggle between being who I was and who I thought people wanted me to be. Basically, I'm a girl that is passionate about agricultural education and communicating about the importance of the ag industry. I'm also not one to let opportunity pass me by. I'm a little silly, can be very serious at times and try to fit too many things into my schedule. At UWRF, I've been very lucky to have a group of friends (as well as advisors and staff) that accept me for who I am and push me to be better. They are always good for when I need to relieve stress or need a reality check.


That being said, I'll give you a little glimpse into the very exciting life of Kellie Claflin.


Monday - I have both a mutual love and hatred for Monday mornings. I've started every Monday this semester by working in our student center on campus from 7:30am to 10am which provides a good chance to get moving early in the morning. At 10 I have class about small groups and problem solving. After class, I had a couple hours free so I took the opportunity to go to the post office and grocery store and do a little studying. It also provided a opportunity for me to prepare for my content area reading class at 2:30 where I was presenting a lesson to my peers about turfgrass. I was a little nervous to present in front of my fellow classmates, but also excited for feedback. The lesson went off without a hitch, with minor technology issues (mainly operator error trying to use a projector ) and my classmates seemed to enjoy a stimulating lesson where they read about classifying turfgrass and used a guided notes page to record their thoughts. Whew! After class it was off to a work meeting, an hour break, then off to my Sigma Alpha meeting. Finally it was time for dinner with some friends and more studying!


Tuesday  - Started the day off by studying... did I mention I had an in-class paper and exam? Went to my English class at 9:30am and hopefully did a good job on an in-class paper we had to write. In the two hours before my next class, I managed to stop by the Ag Ed Office on campus and say hi to a few friends, eat lunch and study for my test on leadership at 12:30. My leadership class this semester has been one of my favorites because it has been full of rich information that applies to life, as well as providing really good in-class discussions with students from across the university. After I was done with my test, I headed over to the student center to work for a couple hours, then met with a group about a class project. After that I headed home and started figuring out what I needed to start on first from my to-do list. Luckily, I live with some awesome roommates that provide good comic relief, like random 9pm trips to the grocery store and watching really old country music videos.


Wednesday - After enjoying a couple slices of delicious cinnamin-raisin bread (a result of the random 9pm trip to the grocery store), I headed off to my small groups and problem solving class. Today we talked about conflict in groups and how it's not always a bad thing. Definitely a good lesson, no matter where you are in life. Then I worked at the student center and had a work eval before my content reading class. My education classes always get me fired up to get into the classroom, especially when we're learning great strategies to use. Today we discussed the importance of teaching students how to summarize and use graphic organizers. Since class has gotten out, I've been working on catching up on e-mails, organizing my calendar, and getting some homework done.


Never a dull moment, but always interesting! I'm trying to cherish this last month before I leave River Falls and go off to student-teach (location still TBD ). Patience is a virtue, right?

Matt Eddy

Won't get fooled again

Posted by Matt Eddy Nov 10, 2010

Meet the new boss, Same as the old boss... at least the ads are done.


Seems like this week is a never ending battle.  Sometimes the only way to see how much ground you have gained is to reflect on the past.  And then turn around and keep struggling forward.


Class: Holy Buckets - this week has been a down right chore.  I was out yesterday and tomorrow to attend a workshop - more later.  A lot of chewing today on classes whose behavior was less than stellar while I was missing.  My only Cardinal Sin is misbehaiving while I am not at school.  So after that fiasco....


CASE: Holding my own and maybe a bit ahead.  Getting ready to launch into Unit 3 Friday.  I hope to pick up the pace, since it seems to be going slow.  AFNR pilot is going well and ASA ready to kick into some really neat labs that my kids last year had a ball with.  Now if I can find some time to get them ready -- guess it'll get done somehow.


Grades: Grades are due on Friday -- so as to add another straw to the pile.


Workshop: The nurse recruited me into taking this mental first aid class this week.  Our school district has had way more than it's share of tragedy in the recent past and it was good to get some more education on a topic that is hard to talk about.  One thing that I know for sure -- If you get into this gig, you gotta like kids...  and I mean, that you enjoy helping them, teaching them, befriending the ones who need it, pushing the achivers and pulling the laggards; building those relationships with them - that as Ag teachers we so commonly do.  There are too many problems in this world that you can't fix, having a teaching who isn't really in it for the right reasons is unfair and maybe even unjust.  So take advantage of extra opportunites to learn about what kids are facing today, the prevelance of mental disorders and help students build the ability to be resiliant.


Thought for the day:  ANYWAY


People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered.


Love them anyway.


If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.


Do good anyway.


If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.


Succeed Anyway.


The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.


Do good anyway.


Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.


Be honest and frank anyway.


What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.


Build anyway.


People really need help but may attack you if you help them.


Help people anyway.


Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.


Give the world the BEST you've got ANYWAY.

Catching Up

Posted by Jan Marie Traynor Nov 6, 2010

It's been a few weeks since I found the time (ok maybe MADE the time is more accurate) to return to COP - life as usual has been very hectic. Our biggest headache right now is the extremely slow progress on our new facility. A little history might help. When I first started at the college after four years teaching in a County Vocational Technical School I taught most classes in "regular" classrooms - meaning they had seats and a blackboard in typical college mentality. I also taught Horticultural Equipment in a parking lot - really! The equipment was all stored in a garage that had no electricity so the parking lot was all we had. I taught plant related classes in an "inside" greenhouse - an interior room with no natural light equipped with florescent lighting. After two years like that they built us a "facility". It was a pole barn and since they ran out of money it had a gravel floor and no heat in half of it while the other half had a concrete floor and very inadequate heating. In fact the heaters AND thermostat for them were on the ceiling - apparently architects never heard that hot air rises. Oh - I almost forgot - they also left off bathrooms!! Ok - no big deal you might thing - except that like we see on some many school campuses - our building is about 3/4 of a mile from the rest of the school and the nearest bathrooms. After another 2 years we finally got bathrooms and also an on-site office. And for the past 24 years this very modest building has been our home. We got a concrete floor and heat in the back room, and over the years added enough technology to make the front room into a state of the art computer lab and classroom.


Of course there were still problems - since we were at the lowest spot topographically on campus all campus runoff came to us - and if the right (or wrong) combination of snow melt and/or heavy rain hit we would flood, getting up to 4" of water in our office and lab. We managed, adding drains that reduced the frequency of flooding and also making sure that everything was at least 4 inches above the floor - helps to have bricks in stock.


Every year when administration asked what I wanted I'd ask for a new facility. I'd make sure that the new facility was in every strategic plan I had to do and I made sure to talk about our needs to everyone.They finally (back in 1995) agreed to add our new building to the Facilities Master Plan, promising action within five years. Yes that was back in 1995. In the meantime we continued to do our job, our students continued to graduate and go on to own or manage very successful horticulture businesses or transfer to Universities all across the country. We landscaped around our building and in general patiently waited for action. But nothing happened . .  . until 2007.


In 2007 Nancy Trivette, our New Jersey Agricultural Education Program Leader, encouraged me to apply for the NAAE Outstanding Post-secondary Program Award. I resisted, thinking there was no way our little program operating in our little pole barn could possibly measure up to the "big dogs" but when Nancy thinks you should do something you WILL do it. So I did and the rest, as they say, is history. We were chosen first in Region VI and embarked on a celebration that to a large degree continues. We planned a reception and the college agreed to pay but allowed me to invite who I wanted  - and I wanted everyone! The college thought about 30 would show but well over 100 horticulture professionals, ag teachers with their students, graduates of our program, and even our Secretary of Agriculture came. Two of our college's Board of Trustee members came as well - the first time that had happened in our history. It was a great day!


The trustees who came went back to report to our full Board that something had to be done - that a Nationally Recognized Program should not have to work in substandard conditions. They convinced the rest that our new building was long overdue - and within a few months planning began. We broke ground in May 2010 and all was well until they found some contaminated soil (from an old ice house that had operated on the site 75 years ago). Since then they took down one of our two greenhouses and almost had to take down our current pole barn. We are living with a huge mess in our front yard and a huge pile of excavated soil in our back compound and my students should get extra credit just for being able to find their way into the building. Completion is anticipated to be September 2011 - so please keep your fingers crossed. The new building will house a Design Studio, Computer Lab, and 2 Science Labs, offices, a conference room, and yes - bathrooms!


What's the lesson here? Perseverance pays off - but in hindsight maybe we were too patient all those years. Learn what matters to those who decide funding. Numbers matter - it is not enough to be good if you only have 5 students in your class. We need to keep enrollment in agriculture classes strong -not just for ourselves but because those students are needed to fill the gaps in agriscience, agriculture, natural resource, and food science professionals that are only expected to increase. And don't be afraid to blow your own horn - trust me - the squeaky wheel really DOES get the grease.

Matt Eddy

Bits and bothers.

Posted by Matt Eddy Nov 4, 2010

Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends,

We're so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside.


Class today - Today's classes are going well.  5 of my 6 periods are working on projects from careers in agriculture (but focused on group cooperation and dynamics) AFNR 2.2.3 to animal behavior ASA 3.2.2.  The hardest part of my day has been keeping the numbers straight.


Cows - Except for a bout with pinkeye in the calves, our cows are now synced and ready for breeding come November 22.  The kids have been choring all week and good reports have been forthcoming.  I need to get out and double check in the near future - maybe when they switch again, I will make an appearance. Winter is looming on my mind and I'm still working on putting the puzzle pieces together for our winter feeding situation.


Lunch - Lunch duty by far is my least favorite 'duty as assigned'.  6 more weeks.  I would rather teach swimming to hemophiliacs in a shark tank.


Greenhouse - Poinsettia's are in and flowering well.  We cut a few corners since the house still isn't really 'operational' yet.  Maybe next fall will be better.  I really wish we would have constructed a turn-key house - but alas, it is what it is.  Every time I walk in that greenhouse I start listing off the laundry list of things that still need fixed, corrected, or finished.  So I just don't walk in there much...


VEGAS -  I'm getting real excited to go to the NAAE convention.  I chose to miss last year and really missed it.  I don't really care for Vegas, er... well... I mean... it doesn't matter where the convention is - I would still like to go.  Vegas just makes things a bit hazy when compared to the neon and glitter outside the convention hall.  I won't mention names, but at least we won't have any go-cart accidents this year.


I highly recommend going to your state conference, Regional conferences and National conference.  Something about being around the best of the best makes me feel (inferior mostly) proud to be a part of this great group of motivated educators.  Meeting new and old friends from across the nation and the professional sharing of our collective knowledge is exciting. Hitting an inside straight flush wouldn't hurt the feeling any....


SAE - we utilize the Ag Experience Tracker (AET) and so far my freshman are starting to really get rolling with it.  Good thing.  With 75+ it's better to snoop electronically than have to drive all over heck and half of creation to see them.  1,994 hours collectively so far in placement SAE's outside of school isn't a bad start to the year.


Kids - 8th period (last of the day) just made me cry --- I was laughing so hard I couldn't help it.  They are an energetic bunch of freshman but has 4 or 7 of those personalities that are funny without meaning to and are super earnest.  When I mentioned a blog -- "Mr. Eddy, are you famous?"Are you, like, a good teacher?", "Do you get to travel everywhere?" "I want to follow your blog", ... ah.  well - at least someone would read it.


5 minutes later....

"Mr. Eddy - my computer doesn't work."

ME - "Which computer is it?" Since I know which ones work by name and they are all named for breeds of livestock.

"It's Klorasso."

ME - "You mean Charolais?.... You were close."


Outta the mouths of babes.


And am I the only teacher who lets these kids pee during the day???  Maybe the fish tank bubbling in the background creates the wrong atmosphere.  Maybe it's cause they walk by the restroom on the way to class - subliminal presentations.  Maybe I'm the only one who thinks their body functions come before my teaching. Whatever it is ---  It's an epidemic!


Innocent humor is by far the best humor in the world.  The pay ain't much, but the entertainment is cheap and plentiful.


Now, if you don't mind, I'll be hiding under my desk till they leave.

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